Caption political TV commercials; Noem a 'continual embarrassment': Your letters

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Political ads should include captioning, sign language to help hard of hearing

This is an open letter to all South Dakota candidates running for local, state or national offices. According to the National Institute of Health, roughly one out of every four people above the age of 65 has some degree of hearing loss. At age 75, the statistic increases to one out of every three. At age 85, it is nearly half the population that has at least some degree of hearing loss.

In addition, we estimate that South Dakota has a deaf population of nearly 50,000 people. Many, if not nearly all, of these people are potential voters. Please consider captioning all of your televised campaign messages or have them interpreted in American sign language to benefit those of us who are deaf, hard of hearing or latened deaf. The added cost of doing so is usually negligible in most instances, considering the overall production costs of making and filming your messages. For those of us who rely on it, the benefit is immeasurable. Your captioned campaign messages will mean so much more and have such an added impact if you can make them fully accessible for everyone.

The best way for us to support you is when we understand you – won’t you please help us help you? We look forward to the vote in November. Thank you for your kind consideration and attention to this request. Best wishes for a successful campaign!

Larry Puthoff, Sioux Falls

Noem has been a 'continual embarrassment'

Kristi Noem looks pretty good, riding horseback toward the horizon in her commercials. Her refusal to join Jamie Smith in a South Dakota Public Broadcasting debate is a reminder that she doesn't have time to do her job. When she calls our trusted journalists "extreme left," let's remember that Noem campaigned against Georgia's U.S. senators and called them communists.

Noem has been a continual embarrassment. Remember the bounty for raccoon tails, the ridiculous "Meth. We 're On It" campaign, her effort to destroy Custer State Park's wildlife loop and her lawsuit demanding fireworks at Mount Rushmore at a time of high wildfire danger?

Jamie Smith gives South Dakota a chance to heal after Noem's strident partisanship and division. He won't travel around the country promoting himself at taxpayers' expense. He'll respect the will of the voters on Medicaid expansion, marijuana and corruption.

We need a full-time governor. Smith will restore common sense and decency to state government.

Jay Davis, Rapid City

Who is John Thune representing in Washington?

South Dakota is a working-class state, so who exactly is John Thune representing in Washington? Thune has worked tirelessly to please his big-business buddies in the Senate. In 2018, he voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This would have been great if the act had cut taxes for working-class families. Instead, his vote gave more than $233 billion in tax cuts to his corporate benefactors – at a time when our national debt exceeded $20 trillion – and did little for his working-class constituents.

When bills supporting the working class are brought before Thune, he is much more reluctant to give his support. Recently, he celebrated his effort to kill an amendment that would have capped insulin at $35 a month. Instead of joining the seven Republicans who voted in favor of the cap, Thune put Big Pharma profits ahead of his constituents who currently pay an arm and a leg for their insulin. I’m certain it has something to do with the almost $250,000 he’s received from Big Pharma lobbies during his tenure.

South Dakota is not a state full of pharmaceutical lobbyists. We are working-class folks with working-class issues. Lifesaving medicine is more important to us than billions in tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy, despite what Thune’s voting record would show. He clearly cares more for his big-money and out-of-state corporate interests than he does for the hard-working South Dakotans who put him there. We need to elect a senator who is not for sale to lobbies and big-money interests. We need a change. We need to elect Brian Bengs.

Henry Van Bemmel, Sioux Falls

South Dakota Republicans are part of extreme right

It’s up to us South Dakotans!

The Republican party has gone to the extreme right and is the biggest threat. They are taking away our individual freedoms and nearly destroyed our democracy. The right to determine what a woman (and a man) can do with their bodies in terms of family planning and reproductive rights. The right to choose the method of birth control that is the most medically appropriate. The right to appropriate medical treatment that might include drugs or procedures that are either currently banned under South Dakota’s archaic abortion law or could be as soon as the next legislative session. The right to marry the person you love. The right to vote without gerrymandering, inconvenient polling stations or fear of intimidation from poll workers. And perhaps most chilling - the right to travel between states without “having to prove you are not traveling out of state” to secure what the state might deem illegal.

Does the phrase “papers, please” strike fear into your heart? It should because our Republican governor has not ruled out the potential for “tracking” all pregnant women to assure they will deliver a fetus to term.

On the national level, our own John Thune is leading the charge. Thune was silent during the Trump presidency, always standing behind Mitch McConnell, ready to do his bidding and “whip” the Senate caucus into shape. Vote for your freedom. Vote for your interests and for the future of our state and country! I am voting for Brian Bengs. A 26-year Air Force and Navy veteran who defended democracy across the globe, he is highly qualified and I encourage you to vote for him as well.

Brian Snow, Brookings

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Letter writers down on Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, Sen. John Thune