Billie Sutton: From Cowboy to Gubernatorial Candidate

BURKE, S.D. – Over the next couple of weeks, we’re taking a closer look at the candidates on the November ballot.

Billie Sutton’s journey as a candidate for governor has been a long and steady one. He announced on May 31st 2o17 that he would run for the state’s highest office.

As a state lawmaker, he says he knew he needed to listen to the people. He toured the state and feels his campaign has steadily gained momentum. We took the trip to Burke to find out what one of Sutton’s top priorities has to do with rebuilding something he feels has been lost.

“I hope to bring trust back. Make sure we’re more open and transparent. Make sure the people are being listened to,” said Sutton.

We met up with Sutton at First Fidelity Bank in Burke where he works as an investment executive, helping people save for retirement, their kids’ college tuition and other life events.

He says he was prepared for the hard work of campaigning and hasn’t really been surprised by much in his battle with Republican candidate Kristi Noem, save for one thing.

“Maybe a little surprising is just how chippy it gets towards the end, so a little bit surprising, but we kind of knew it was coming too, based on what happened in the primary,” said Sutton, “we will just keep doing our thing, working hard.”

We asked him how is life in rodeo and his life in Burke prepared him for this journey.

“I think a number of ways, you know. Coming from a west river ranch background and a rodeo background I think it teaches you a lot about life. You know, when you bucked off you got get back up and keep going. You know, you get right back on that horse that bucked you off,” said Sutton.

“I think as governor you have to be able to persevere in the face of challenges and I’ve really shown that I can do that since my injury as well,” said Sutton, “You know, after I got hurt in 2007 I broke my back. I was paralyzed from the waist down and for somebody that had their life planned out and knew how it was going to go, it was a pretty stark moment for me. I really had two choices, I could roll over and quit or I could fight for a better life.”

A better life is something he wants for all South Dakotans. Suttons says he’s looking forward to November 6th.

“I love how South Dakota is so small, in that grand scheme of things. There hasn’t been a day go by on the campaign trail that I haven’t met somebody that says, ‘hey do you know so and so,’ I say yah, that’s my 3rd grade teacher, then they ask ‘is your 3rd grade teacher supporting you?’ I said, she said she was, I’ve really enjoyed that it’s a great state to live in and raise a family and hopefully I get the opportunity to be the governor of South Dakota and do some good work for the people of South Dakota,” said Sutton.

Sutton says another priority for him is education. He says it scares him to think of what would have happened after his rodeo accident if he did not have a good education to fall back on.

Sutton is running against Republican Kristi Noem and Libertarian Kurt Evans in the November 6th election.

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