PIERRE, S.D. — Rep. Michele Harrison was sworn into office last Saturday, got married on Sunday and arrived in Pierre on Monday evening for the start of her first legislative session. This, she jokes with other lawmakers, is her honeymoon.
Harrison won her first term to the state House in November as a Republican representing District 23, which includes her hometown of Mobridge. She had plans to get married to her longtime boyfriend, Darrell Schlepp, since the spring. But their summers are so busy it kept getting put off.
"I really did want to be married before I came to the Legislature, so (the wedding) was the last day possible," Harrison said in a recent interview, glancing down at her wedding ring. "We plan on doing a honeymoon after the session, but it's kind of the joke around here that he's having his honeymoon in Mobridge and I'm having mine here in Pierre."
Harrison said she and Schlepp eventually decided in the final days of December to get married on Jan. 11. When they both traveled to Pierre last Saturday for Harrison to take her oath of office in the state House chamber, her mother stayed back to handle the flowers, the cake and other final wedding arrangements.
Harrison enlisted the help of Scott Myren, a Fifth Judicial Circuit judge, to perform the roughly 30-person ceremony at her parents' house in Mobridge. Myren said he's used to last-minute weddings at the courthouse and was pleased to "do something special for a lifelong family friend."
Harrison moved back to South Dakota in 2006 and has been working as executive director of the Mobridge Economic Development Corp. She met Schlepp, market president for Dacotah Bank in Mobridge, when she joined the local rodeo association board shortly after moving back.
Still getting used to the Capitol and the political process, Harrison said she's carrying some state agency bills this session. But Harrison's favorite part so far is seeing her name on her desk in the House chamber.
"We got a picture taken of my husband and I behind the desk," Harrison said. "That was pretty exciting, I have to say. That made it real."