Kristi Noem speaks after becoming the first female governor in the state of South Dakota.
photo courtesy of Zach Nelson, KCCR, Pierre.
Kristi Noem speaks after becoming the first female governor in the state of South Dakota.

Kristi Noem sworn in as South Dakota's 1st female governor

The Associated Press - January 4, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. — Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said Saturday that it's a "distinct honor" to serve as South Dakota's first female governor after taking her oath of office to lead state government for the next four years.

In her inaugural address, Noem departed from a campaign in which she didn't emphasize the milestone , saying she couldn't let the day pass without commenting on its "historic nature." Noem's election to her first term as governor in November came 100 years and one day after women's suffrage passed in South Dakota.

"It is a distinct honor for me as our state's first woman governor," said Noem, who focused on her farming and ranching roots and congressional achievements to claim the historic victory.

Noem said the achievement sends a message to children in South Dakota that anything is possible. Noem said she wants to be remembered as a governor for the next generation.

She said it will be her "north star" as she makes decisions as governor, whether she's working to address meth addiction, improve schools or keeping regulation and taxes low.

"Nothing motivates me more in public service than solving problems for our next generation," Noem said.

State legislators and other officials, including Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, were also sworn in Saturday. Republican Rep. Scyller Borglum of Rapid City said Noem has the tenacity and determination needed to move South Dakota forward.

"I'm so proud that my first full session is with her as our governor," said Borglum, who is among an almost-record number of women who will serve in the state Legislature in the 2019 session.

Borglum called it "tremendously exciting," saying the Legislature needs a variety of perspectives. Borglum's priorities include education, fighting meth and ensuring South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base gets the next-generation B-21 bomber.

Noem's work building her administration will switch to policymaking Tuesday with the start of her first legislative session as governor. The 2019 session will kick off with Noem's State of the State address. She plans to release policy priorities at the speech and to propose a state budget in the coming weeks.

Noem campaigned on "four pillars" of protection, pledging to not raise taxes nor grow state government and to improve transparency and fight federal intrusion.

A four-term congresswoman, Noem is trading Washington for Pierre as the 33rd governor of South Dakota. She replaces Republican Dennis Daugaard , who couldn't run for again because of term limits.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, who served with Noem in South Dakota's federal delegation, said it's a new beginning for the state. Noem has "vast" experience in agriculture and business, Thune said, adding that he expects Noem to be focused and aggressive in recruiting businesses to South Dakota.

"It took a long time for South Dakota to get our first woman governor," Thune said. "It's an exciting day and a historic day, and one that I think all South Dakotans ought to celebrate no matter which side of the aisle you're on."

A ball in the Capitol rotunda and another at a Pierre event center will cap Noem's inaugural celebration. The estimated budget of $150,000 is funded by donations and ticket sales.

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