SD Legislative candidate survey: Nicole Heenan

The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre.
The South Dakota State Capitol building in Pierre.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:49 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Nicole Heenan is running for the South Dakota State Senate as a Democrat in District 32. The district encompasses much of downtown Rapid City, and runs south towards Upper Spring Creek Road. Heenan is challenging incumbent Republican Helene Duhamel.

Nicole Heenan is running as a Democrat for the South Dakota State Senate in District 32.
Nicole Heenan is running as a Democrat for the South Dakota State Senate in District 32.(Submitted)

1. Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less. 

I’m Nicole Heenan, Senate candidate for District 32.  I’m a fifth generation South Dakotan, a first generation college student, a mom, a small business owner and mental health therapist.  I’m a current John T. Vucurevich fellow and a committee member of Early Learner Rapid City.  In recent past, I served as the State President of the American Association of University Women and the State Ambassador for United State of Women.

2. What prompted you to run for office?

I’m running because I love South Dakota and it’s people.  I grew up here, went to state universities, started a business and raised my family here.  Over the past two years, South Dakota has seen explosive growth that’s threatening our way of life.  We’re drowning in a one party dominance and a political rhetoric of “less government, less taxes” and we’re letting them off the hook.  South Dakota is in dire need of a generational change in leadership- one that works to represent all of South Dakotans, not just the wealthy and the special interests.

3. What public policies are you passionate about? What would your policy priorities be in Pierre? 

I’m running for office because our kids aren’t okay, our communities aren’t okay and our democracy is breaking in front of our eyes.  Policies and issues that are important to me are mental health, education, housing, healthcare, economic development, and public safety.

4. Cutting the grocery tax has become central to this election cycle. Do you think that the legislature should cut the grocery tax next legislative session? Is there any taxes you would cut instead, or in addition to?

Inflation is hitting us hard and keeping money in the pockets of South Dakotans seems like the right thing to do.  Cutting taxes doesn’t fix our problems but it does help today.  Over the past two years the global economy has struggled and South Dakota was seen as an appealing place for many to take shelter and grow roots.  The problems we’re facing aren’t new, they’re exacerbated due to exponential and unsustainable growth.  It’s time we have leaders who work to address system-sized issues.

5. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier in the year. South Dakota currently has a law that prevents abortion almost completely outright. Are there any exceptions you would like to see the legislature enact? What other laws would you like to see passed to support mothers and families? 

If elected, I would work tirelessly to carve out as many exceptions as possible.  Twice this has been put up to vote and twice South Dakotans have spoke.  This transcends parties.  Most South Dakotans feel that access to abortion is healthcare.

6. Recreational marijuana is on the ballot in November. If it passes, would you commit to legalizing it?

Absolutely. It’s unfortunate South Dakota is having to use it’s tax payer dollars to overturn the voice of the people.

7. What is the most important quality for an elected official to possess?  

Elected officials should lift up the voice of it’s people, not their own. Leaders should possess great listening skills, be diplomatic and to do hard work the people need them to do.

8. Who do you take inspiration from, and why? 

Everyday people.  My kids, my family and friends and community members. For a government that’s failing it’s people, the community is working hard to fill those gaps.

State legislative candidates in contested districts this election season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. With the exception of a quick spelling and grammar check, answers were not edited by the poster. Those who responded to the survey questions had their results posted.