Ryan grew up moving hay bales, driving tractor, and picking rocks on his parents’ farm north of Yankton. With the exception of picking rocks, it was idyllic. Like many farm kids, Ryan learned about long hours, small margins, and the passion that drives so many South Dakotans who work the land or run small businesses. He gets it. Some days after a hard days work, the only thing you can do is work harder. But by far his biggest lessons learned were on drives into town, in the family truck, when his father would impart a few words of wisdom: “Treat others as you’d like to be treated,” and “If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
In other words, Ryan’s South Dakota upbringing was like a lot of ours. In rural America, a handshake and an honest conversation is still the best way of doing business, whether the grocery store, the bank, or the sale barn. It’s how we be good neighbors and how we keep our small-towns strong. It’s what built a South Dakota we can be proud of.
But the news coming out of Pierre shows the opposite. Our elected officials have forgotten how to talk to each other. They shout and call names and sow seeds of division rather than build each other up. They don’t get much done. And as voters, we’re lost in the shuffle, as our leaders pass the buck and drive neighbors apart.
That’s not the South Dakota Ryan grew up in. And it’s not the South Dakota values Ryan will stand on if elected to serve as your State Representative.
Even though he’s left the farm, Ryan has not forgotten those bedrock values he was raised up on. Ryan put himself through college at the University of South Dakota, graduating magna cum laude with degrees in economics and political science and a minor in Latin. At Vermillion, Ryan developed the University’s first plan to reduce campus energy costs through the USD Carbon Task Force. And after graduation in 2008, he moved to Iowa City to study law. During his seven years of schooling, Ryan worked numerous jobs and internship, including with Senator Tim Johnson in Washington, DC, to pay the bills and foster an education that can be put to public service. After graduating law school, Ryan knew exactly where he needed to go: back home.
After passing the bar, Ryan practiced law and lived in Sioux Falls. He enjoyed being a part of the city’s growth, but his heart was always in Yankton. Yankton—the Mother City of the Dakotas—was where he saw grand history and an exciting future mixed with small-town friendliness and river-city charm. In 2013, presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take over a retiring attorney’s practice, Ryan moved back home to practice law at his own law firm.
In his practice, Ryan is a client first-type attorney. He always takes the time to listen to people about their needs and goals. Through his law practice, he has learned the important issues facing every day South Dakotans, but unfortunately, the issues facing people today that Ryan sees in his law practice need much more than effective legal consultation. That’s why he’s running for State Representative.
Ryan also finds time to serve the community. He is a board member for the Yankton Area Foundation and Southeast Court-Appointed Special Advocates (Southeast CASA) nonprofits. He is also on the Yankton Chamber of Commerce’s Agribusiness Committee. He is the Secretary for the South Dakota State Bar Project Rural Practice Task Force, which is dedicated to finding ways to get more attorneys into rural communities. He has also coached youth soccer with the Yankton Youth Soccer Association. If he can get 12 middle school boys to behave at soccer practice on an open patch of grass with no parents around, he should do well in the legislature!
But his most proud achievement is now entering its third year. In 2015, Ryan married his Yankton sweetheart, Mallory Schulte. She’s the joy of his life and keeps him on his (legal) toes, too. Mallory is a local girl who also became an attorney. When they are not talking contract law (kidding), the two make their home in downtown Yankton. They’re just the latest to know what generations of families have known before them: Yankton County is an unrivaled place to call home. On Saturdays, they can be found biking out to Lewis & Clark Lake in the morning or walking the Meridian Bridge at sunset, and they know, wherever they go, they are in an idyllic small town with good neighbors. That’s the South Dakota Ryan will fight for and that’s why he’s running for State Representative.