Sutton names Michelle Lavallee as running mate

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Billie Sutton, candidate for South Dakota Governor, has announced Sioux Falls business woman Michelle Lavallee as his running mate and candidate for Lt. Governor.

“Michelle brings balance and bipartisanship to our campaign. She’s an urban, fiscally conservative, business leader with years of experience in South Dakota’s private and public sector,” Sutton said in a press release Thursday. “She’s not a career politician but instead is a successful, well-respected business woman with deep-rooted South Dakota values who has the background and experience to help drive my plan to build a stronger South Dakota economy.”

“Billie’s authenticity, genuine passion for making South Dakota stronger, and push to change business as usual in state government drew me to consider this move from the private sector to public service,” Lavallee said in a press release Thursday. “I’ve been a Republican most of my life, but I realize Billie’s beliefs and values are South Dakota values I also share. South Dakota is ready to break from the status quo and politics as usual, regardless of political affiliation.”

Lavallee has executive level experience in energy, higher education, healthcare, ag manufacturing, financial services, business strategy, and branding including management roles at Raven Industries, Avera McKennan Hospital, and the University of South Dakota. She has served on many state-wide, civic, and nonprofit boards and committees including the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, and Washington Pavilion Arts & Sciences. From a four-generation farming and ranching family, Michelle earned her MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Business. She and her husband of 34 years, Paul Lavallee, reside in Sioux Falls and Huron.

A longtime Republican, Lavallee recently changed her party affiliation in order to join Sutton’s ticket.