Press Release- Sutton Campaign Announces Sioux Falls Business Woman Michelle Lavallee as Lt. Governor

SIOUX FALLS – Today Billie Sutton, candidate for South Dakota Governor, 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. “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.  “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.

Michelle Lavallee is a longtime Republican, seasoned Sioux Falls business professional, fourth generation South Dakotan, and candidate for Lt. Governor.

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Press Release- Sutton Adds Silvia Christen as New Finance Director

BURKE – Billie Sutton, candidate for South Dakota Governor, is proud to announce Silvia Christen, former Executive Director of the SD Stockgrowers Association, has joined the campaign as Finance Director. Christen will head up all fundraising efforts and manage the budgetary operations of the campaign.

Christen said, “I’ve had my thumb on the pulse of South Dakota policy for years, and I’ve been so impressed with Billie’s ability to build coalitions and work for common sense solutions. I’m proud to join the Sutton campaign and ready to continue my work for a stronger South Dakota from this new capacity.”

A Rapid City resident, Christen has served as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association for the past 7 years. While earning a degree from the University of Missouri in Ag Economics and Rural Sociology in 2005, Christen conducted research on ag policy and rural development in the US and South Africa.

Her resume includes previous involvement with the Vote Yes Rapid City campaign, local and regional elections, the Rapid City Chamber Ag Committee, and several other service organizations in the region and state.  She was an integral part of the disaster recovery efforts following the 2013 Atlas Blizzard, and she was named the Black Hills Stock Show’s Ag Business Person of the Year in 2015.

Christen will work to continue the unprecedented fundraising success the Sutton campaign has achieved so far in this election cycle.

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Sabato Ups Sutton’s Chances for Victory in November

Election forecaster Larry Sabato's team at Sabato’s Crystal Ball have taken notice of the momentum and considerable grassroots support surrounding Sutton’s campaign for Governor of South Dakota and increased Sutton's odds of victory in November:

“South Dakota, home to Mount Rushmore, has the longest streak of voting for Republican governors of any state in the country — four decades.... Yet we are somewhat intrigued by the candidacy of state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D), a former rodeo cowboy who was disabled from the waist down after a riding accident in 2007.... [T]his is also an open-seat race in a year where Democrats might have some national momentum and where Sutton might be a stronger candidate than South Dakota Democrats typically have, and some of our sources have taken notice of his potential. We’re moving this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.”

Read the full article here.

Billie Sutton is a rancher, financial professional at a small community bank, State Senator, former professional rodeo cowboy, fifth-generation South Dakotan, and candidate for Governor.

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