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Tollefson sworn in as new state's attorney

Sworn in ... Haakon County Auditor Patsy Freeman, left, has sworn in the new Haakon County State’s Attorney Gay Tollefson. Courtesy photo

The duly elected Haakon County State's Attorney Gay Tollefson, was sworn into office on January 5 by Haakon County Auditor Patsy Freeman.

The four-year term will involve the defense of state laws and the defense of Haakon County in legal cases. Tollefson is also doing the state's attorney work for Bennett County, which must contract for someone to do work since no one would run for the office in that county.

She used to be a lobbyist for the South Dakota Water Congress, an umbrella organization for 21 various water interests. She said that, when working in Washington, she was often asked by politicians if she was an attorney and they would seem to not give her any real consideration unless she was.

"So, I went to school for a law degree to be a better lobbyist," said Tollefson. "While I was in school, the law became more interesting than the lobbying."

After earning her degree in 1993 from the University of South Dakota, she was one of three lawyers in the South Dakota attorney general's office who prosecuted child abuse cases. "After six and a half years of all you do is child abuse cases, you are ready to get out of that type case load," said Tollefson. "I toughened up, but I don't know how many times I would go home and just cry."

Her work load since has been doing defense cases in a large geographical area, which has included Winner, Gregory, Burke, Lyman Rapid City and other towns. "I was beginning to feel that I was a traveling salesman. I was tired of being on the road and I wanted to be home more," said Tollefson. Though she will be in Martin some days, the travel will be far less than before.

Tollefson said, "I am an attorney who still believes in our constitution. I will treat everyone equally when it comes to prosecution. I will be available to county officials to assist in any legal questions and will be more accessible to the public when it comes to county business."