By Margaret Barnett, Sacajawea Scroll
S.D. Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen was excited to finally be at Girls State Wednesday morning and shared that excitement in an interactive presentation.
Having been an alternate in high school, Fiegen didn’t have the opportunity until now to express her desire at the American Legion Auxiliary program to encourage young girls interested in learning more about government.
From the start, Fiegen established her desire to grab the delegates’ attention by coming down from the stage and speaking to them from the floor. She proceeded to talk about her son at Boys State and how hot it was there with the lack of an air conditioning system.
Afterward, she raised her voice into the camera of her phone, being held by Journalism City delegate Bekah Bahn in order to speak to her son. She had previously asked Bahn to Snapchat the times she mentioned her son and send the recording to him.
After discussing her start in politics, she began a game of true or false on the beliefs of the Republican Party. She asked delegates from Aberdeen, Pierre, Lincoln High School, Mitchell, Murdo, and Parker six true or false questions and if answered correctly, they received candy. Delegates discovered through this that republicans believe in a limited government, tax cuts if possible, helping out the small businesses, strong military and the right to bear arms.
When asked about the biggest lesson she’s learned, Fiegen said to never burn bridges and to always build relationships. She said to be inclusive so people don’t feel like their party abandoned them. She also said social media has caused a divide among the political parties.
As far as issues in South Dakota today, Fiegen finds education, budget and drugs the most pressing. For girls desiring to go into government, she advises to work hard, be ethical and get involved.
“Be honest. Keep your word,” said Fiegen.
She even left her number (360-2850) encouraging delegates to contact her for information about becoming a page.
In her late 20s Fiegen said she was asked to run for legislature and said no, but when a candidate dropped out from a race, she decided to run.
Fiegen believes she won because of her love for South Dakota and lack of focus on political parties.
She said she went door to door and talked to people. When she got the job, she was placed beside the democratic leadership. She was at first confused by this, but said she was told she was put there because of her respect for others and ability to work with all people with all views.
“I love being a republican, but I love being a South Dakotan first,” said Fiegen throughout her presentation.