Billie Sutton hopes to find common ground if elected as governor

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - "I never saw myself in politics," gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton said.

Photo courtesy of Billie Sutton

The former professional bronc rider said the rodeo accident that left him paralyzed...

"It was a scary time."

...inspired him to serve the state that supported him through recovery.

"It really awakened in me a service over self-mentality and a need to give back to the people that invested in me," he said.

After serving in the state senate for eight years, Sutton hopes to continue investing in people as South Dakota's governor.

"People are tired of politics as usual, they want someone they know they can trust and is going to bring people together, that's going to clean up state government, going to focus on workforce development, and someone who is going to find common ground," he said.

This is Sutton's first statewide race, and he said as he has met with voters across the state of South Dakota, there was one thing that has really stood out.

"I think we have way more in common than not," he said.

The Democratic candidate said he is not about partisan politics.

"For me it's not a party affiliation thing, if I'm elected governor, I represent everybody," Sutton said.

He has even chosen a Republican as his running mate.

"I think a lot of politicians like to make us feel like we're divided, and I just don't think we are at the end of the day," he said.

Sutton said he has heard people on all sides share many of his same goals.

"First and foremost we want to clean up state government, we want to focus on workforce development, and education is an incredibly important component of that, and especially career and technical education, giving our kids opportunities to stay right here in South Dakota," Sutton said.

He plans to focus on workforce development by improving education.

"We've got to do everything we can to keep our kids here, and that means opportunities for higher education and a good K-12 system," Sutton said.

Just some of the ideals he believes many South Dakotans share.

"That if you work hard, you should be able to get ahead, that our kids and our grandkids should have the same or better opportunities than we had, when agriculture is strong South Dakota is strong, and that our state government should be as honest and trustworthy as our people," he said.

If Sutton is elected, he would be the first Democrat to serve as South Dakota's governor since the 1970s.