On Monday, July 31st, I had the awesome pleasure of sitting down with Independent candidate, George Hendrickson, at Remedy Brewing in downtown Sioux Falls. He’s running against Shantel Krebs and Dusty Johnson of the Republican party, and Tim Bjorkman and Chris Martian of the Democratic party for House Representative in the upcoming 2018 state election. As I sat down with him, it quickly became apparent that he is unlike most political players. At first, I was a little nervous about interviewing a “politician,” as this was my first go-around in this area. As the interview started, I was pleased to find that he’s a pretty normal guy. A family man with a big heart for those he cares about. He was very candid with me. As well as open and honest about who he is, where he came from, and about what his goals and views are. It felt very much like sitting and chatting with a friend over a drink. It was a pleasant surprise that he was so talkative. Throughout the interview portion of this article, I’ll illuminate some of the questions I had for him, but mostly will give his responses since he had so much to say. He gave such thorough answers that he often answered my questions before I got the chance to. I’ll highlight certain topics he discussed with me to give you a better idea of who he is as a person and a candidate. So, allow me to introduce. George Hendrickson.
Brandilyn: “So where did you start off? I know you were a former police officer…”.
George: “Years ago, yeah. Long time ago, I was a police officer back in the early 2000s. Prior to that, I did fugitive recovery. I was a bail bondsman, and I did that from the middle 90’s up to then. I have a background in insurance . . . . Then, you know, getting married and things change. So I ended up eventually coming out of law enforcement when the last chief I had retired and left the state . . . . And so I really love law enforcement, especially fugitive recovery ‘cause that was always something I was really good at I mean I could find anybody. I enjoyed that a lot, but it’s, you know, really dangerous. It’s always foreign jurisdictions, no backup and you know you’re kicking open people’s doors and going in heavy to get them and drag them back to home jurisdiction. Which was great unmarried, but once I was married the wife was kind of like, ‘Well.. you know, is there something a little different you could do?’ So, that was kind of the evolution there. I had a construction background, so I went back into construction and I enjoyed that. I had been doing that for years. I had been doing that kind of thing clear up until my son was born. Then when we started finding out about his condition, and everything that had to do with that. We ended up kind of having to sit down as a family and say, ‘Okay, how are we going to weather this because this child needs full-time care,’ and so it wasn’t even a matter of even playing Rock-Paper-Scissors. I mean, I was self-employed, my wife had a solid, steady job with medical benefits and all of that kind of thing. So, we determined that we could refocus my job a lot easier, and so that’s what we did. And so I became a full-time caregiver for my disabled son. So that was, once again, was an amazing change in life. ‘Cause I’d always been the primary parent just by virtue of the fact that my job was always very flexible, and Mom’s wasn’t, and so I always was the guy cooking all the meals and shagging(driving) the children here and there and stuff. So, we’ve always had a bit of a role reversal ‘cause my wife’s a professional, and she takes her work very seriously. And she’s very good at what she does, and I never had an ounce of second thought or animosity about that. She’s so good at what she does; I’m just blessed to know her and be able to live in the same house, I think. And she’s a great mom, you know, she’s great with the kids too but, it’s the same thing, I grew up where my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad always worked. So, I had a lot less interaction with my dad than I do with my mom, and she suffers through that and that hurts her. But she does it because it’s ultimately for the good of the family, and now as my children get older they really understand it a lot better. . . . Mom, she works full time. She’s also a full-time student. She’s working on her Master’s degree, and we’ve been doing that for the last ten years, and so she’s incredible. I mean, she’s exceedingly capable. You know, she helps me strive for higher goals too just because I watch her knock the snot out of it every day you know? It’s a good environment, but if we didn’t have the dynamic we have, it wouldn’t work. If I weren’t the guy I am, she wouldn’t be able to do what she does. And if she wasn’t the person she is, I couldn’t do what I’m doing, you know just like this whole fiasco. Once it was determined that this is what I must do she was just like, ‘Yep.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, I always knew it,’ and so it was just a matter of getting there.”
B: “So what made you really want to go into politics?”
G: “Oh… I didn’t; I really didn’t. Ah, politics drives me crazy. You know, I have beat my head up against the wall for several years up at the state legislature trying to just do something good for my son and for others that are disabled or sick that can benefit from this. And it’s really been hard because looking at the legislature, most of them really want to do something to help, but they’re afraid to. I mean, I’ve been told by more people than you know, ‘Oh, I would but it’s an election year..’ . . . . Getting back to the ‘Why you going this road?’. Everybody kept saying, ‘Well, you know, until it changes on a federal level we can’t do anything.’ Which is absurd because 46 other states have already done something. So I mean, come on. We’re all adults here. So, I guess that we weighed, you know, what do we do? Do we run for South Dakota House? Do we run for senate? It was like, we can’t do anything to affect anything there because we’re still going to hit the same wall, ‘Well, we can’t do anything until the FDA does something.’ Well, that pretty well moved us to, ‘Well, we have to look at this federally.’ And the place to go is probably, we think is Congress. So, we toiled over that for months. About whether to do it or not you know ‘cause we know that one: it’s not an easy thing to do.. two: it’s completely stacked against you if you are not a political player. And it’s completely stacked against you if you don’t come from name and money.”
B: “Well, and since you’re not accepting Political Action Committee money and not affiliated with one of the two parties, you’ve got a lot working against you, but I personally feel your approach says a lot.”
G: “And we’re counting on that to carry us because our message is completely different from either party. The folks that are running on the Republican side, they are professional politicians. This is what they do. . . . And they are going to fight tooth-and-nail to win this election because this is their next stepping stone to the Senate, or the next stepping stone to the governorship. . . . But up until today, you are given a choice between two party platforms, and you have to figure out which one you can live with; their idealisms, the most. And nowhere do you have anybody saying, ‘You know what? I want to go there and work for the state of South Dakota. I want to work for the people who send me there. Not a platform that’s been handed down to me by some big shot in DC.’ And because that’s what it is. When we’ve sent requests to all three of our federal, elected officials, we nearly got the same form letter back from 2 different senators and one congresswoman. . . . And so it’s no different on the democratic side, they just look at it differently. They were in support of what we were doing at that time. And so the problem is, you’ve got a lot of conservatives that are really, really mad right now at the Republican party because they really feel like they’re not being represented. They feel like these guys are going out there just to get stinking rich. They’re making millions off of taking PAC money. . . . Getting back to the angst of the people, I think we have a fair number of Democrats that are wholly upset over, not only what happened in their electoral process; where they rigged their own primary and just walked away from it smiling, and nobody said anything. And I’m still troubled that nobody has said anything. . . . And likewise the Republican side, they saw the exact same thing where they were trying to get their electors to not vote the way the citizens that sent them there voted, which is akin to fixing or rigging an election. Now luckily, they didn’t do that but there was a lot of talk about it, and it had a lot of people very upset over that process.”
George on his goals for the campaign and what he wishes to accomplish up until the election: “We want to try to accomplish a lot of different things and one of the things that we want to be the best in the world at is having a place, where on say, a Monday night I’m meeting with people that want to be a part of this whole process. Not just a part of the campaign, but a part of the whole think-tank process and everything that are liberal.. and I say that with little quotation marks because I just don’t want to deal with Alt-left, progressive, trump-hating.. just like I don’t want to deal with alt-right either.”
B: “You’re going to want people like me, who are in the middle.”
G: “Yeah, I want my brothers and sisters. The people are worried about how they’re going to survive, what our country’s going to look like in 20 years. The people that rationally look at things from their point of view and also rationally be able to look at things from someone else’s point of view. I want to meet with those people on Monday, and on Wednesday I want to meet with the other side. I want to have the same conversation with both groups so I can find out what our passions are and where they cross lines. Where they meet and how we can gel them because if we can put together a group of liberals and a group of conservatives and we can bring them together in a bipartisan way as a campaign. Then our ability will be endless in Washington because that group will never disappear. That group will ever be growing and evolving. It’ll be all over the state eventually if we can do this right. Because that’s how this job should be. You know, I see all the time, postings: ‘Will you stand with me on this subject.’ And the whole point is what can I stand with YOU on? That is what these conversations have to be about. At first, I need to meet with these groups separately, because I don’t want them fighting over their politics. If I’m the bridge, if I’m the one who’s going to stand in the gap, then I’ll stand in the gap between them until we can get more groups together. But if we have to meet separately, then we will until we can. It’s because I love my friends on the left just as much as the ones on the right. We all just want to live a great, peaceful life with the reassurance that our government is not[screwing] us. Because we all feel like it is. And if I fail miserably, thank God it’s a two-year term, and you can replace me!
During the interview, I stated that I thought he was in the middle on some issues(my bad, George), but I was wrong. He’s standing in the gap.. between the Left and the Right. There IS a difference. Then I asked him specifically about his stance on medical cannabis, and if he thought that would hurt him in South Dakota. To which he said, “No, oh my God, no. Because the level of acceptance people have for medical cannabis is through the roof. That is probably the most frustrating thing for people right now. When they look at my child and know he can’t get relief in this state. And they know damn well that it is really that simple if 46 other states can do it. They feel that is completely being ludicrous, and it will hurt the other candidates more. . . . It will help me. It will hurt them. The thing is, I don’t want everyone to think that is my single issue because I’ve already been accused of that. Even though, my website says otherwise. Even though, everything says otherwise.”
As you can see, George is unlike most other politicians. So much so, that he doesn’t even consider himself a politician, in fact, he said, “As a matter of fact, I loathe that.” He would, likely, invite you to openly approach him with any questions you may have about his campaign, the issues surrounding politics, or just inquiring about who he is. He wants to get to know the people he plans on representing in Washington, D.C. I feel that George is a breath of fresh air when compared to the stale atmosphere of current politics. Here, we have an option for political office that is true of and for the people of South Dakota. Someone who is unbound by party lines, and is willing to meet others as a real person, not just a politician. Thank you so much, George, for allowing me to get to know you a little better and help to share your story. I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming election!