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Kristi Noem isn't the only South Dakotan sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday.

No, South Dakota hasn't magically picked up another House seat. But it can lay a claim to a one of Tennessee's new congressmen, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.

DesJarlais is a Sturgis native who moved to eastern Tennessee in 1993 to practice medicine. A family practitioner, DesJarlais attended medical school at the University of South Dakota.

His parents still live in Sturgis, where his father, Joe DesJarlais, is a city council member and his mother, Sylvia DesJarlais, recently retired from 44 years as nurse at the Fort Meade Veterans Hospital near Sturgis

Sylvia DesJarlais said she spent Wednesday glued to the television, watching her son get sworn in.

"It was an exciting day," she said. "I was trying to take pictures when I'd see him in the audience on the TV screen."

Sylvia DesJarlais said she wasn't totally surprised her son, 46, decided to enter politics.

"He was highly influenced in high school by his debate teachers. I truly believe that's where he got his speaking ability and his ability to question things going on," she said. "He was always the child that if you didn't like how things were happening, you get involved to make a change."

She said Scott DesJarlais ran for Congress in large part due to concern about health care.

Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or


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