If anyone thought there wouldn’t be a political component to Billie Sutton’s new Leadership Institute, think no more. The Leadership Institute’s announcement of its inaugural class includes a clear poke at the gal who beat Sutton by the smallest margin since 1986:
Here is what the new Sutton Leadership Fellows are saying about the program:
- “It was a great way to connect with some of South Dakota’s brightest people, and I’ve never had a better learning experience.”
- “I think it’s South Dakota’s next big thing.”
- “Amazing, invigorating and wonderfully challenging program based in accountability and results” [emphasis mine; Sutton Leadership Institute, press release, 2019.06.04].
“Next Big Thing” is the line Governor Kristi Noem used in her State of the State Address (the text of which January message still, incredibly, is not posted on the Governor’s Speeches webpage, despite her bloated communications staff) to gift-wrap her lack of vision and imagination. A member of the Leadership Institute doesn’t invoke that phrase, and the sharp Sutton wordsmiths don’t repeat that phrase, without seeking to send a message to Noem.
And why not send that message? South Dakota’s Next Big Thing won’t be an industry or some lucky oil strike; it will be a new generation of creative leaders who can look past the pageantry of personality and partisan label (and, seriously, is Kristi Noem Governor for any other reason?) and lead South Dakota in addressing the real challenges of the 21st century.