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The Fair Campaign

August 16, 2012, 9:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

The Fair Campaign
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

County fairs aren't just for agriculture and carnival rides this year. South Dakotans will see several candidates out at their local county fairs for the next few weeks campaigning.

"It's very important that they get to meet you personally, so they get to know what you stand for," South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said.

Fiegen is campaigning to keep her seat on the commission this fall. She says fairs are a chance for her to hear how South Dakotans are being affected by the decisions being made by the PUC.

"Fairs are a great opportunity to meet the people, talk to the people, because you really need to be a consumer advocate at the Public Utilities Commission to make sure we concentrate on how families are being affected by utility rates," Fiegen said.

Her opponent for that PUC seat in November is Matt McGovern. McGovern is also taking the time to meet voters at South Dakota's fairs this month.

"This is old fashioned, retail politics, shaking hands and meeting people one-on-one and it's the best way to do it," McGovern said.

McGovern says even with all the technology these days campaigning for office still comes down to meeting the voters who you want to represent.

"There's going to be TV ads and we've all got Facebook and the Internet, but there's still no substitute for that one-on-one conversation you can have with someone in person," McGovern said.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem's democratic opponent Matt Varilek agrees. He says hitting the local South Dakota fairs in August and September is a big part of campaigning for November.

"Here in South Dakota we expect to know our candidates face-to-face and I'm really enjoying the opportunity to have all these face to face conversations, and make the case that I'm the best person to speak up for us in Congress," Varilek said.

Noem says listening to South Dakotans at fairs is one of her favorite parts of campaigning.

"You get great feedback at county fairs. People really do tell you ideas that they have, solutions that they might have, or things that they're thinking about. So, it's a great opportunity for us to hear from everyday people about thoughts that might be on their mind," Noem said.

And the candidates hope that the up close conversations over the next few weeks will help them connect with voters when they walk into their polling places this fall.

"They are authentic people, they are hardworking, they are working very very hard just to put food on the table and we want to make sure we listen to them and that we fight for them," Fiegen said.

"I think people appreciate it when you take the time to introduce yourself and speak to them one on one, so it's real important for people running for office to come visit with people one on one if they can," McGovern said.

South Dakotans will also get the chance to hear the candidates debate at upcoming fairs and festivals. Noem and Varilek are scheduled for a formal debate at DakotaFest in Mitchell next week.

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