Noem sworn in as first female governor

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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - It was a historic day in South Dakota as Governor-elect Kristi Noem became simply Governor Kristi Noem.

Governor Dennis Daugaard said goodbye to Pierre, handing over the reins to Noem - now South Dakota's 33rd governor and first women to hold the office.

In her opening remarks, Noem thanked the crowd and acknowledged the handwork it's taken by many people to get to where she is now.

"I am deeply honored just to stand here in this beautiful rotunda surrounded by all of you as we participate in the peaceful passing of responsibility from one governor to the next," Noem said.

Breaking the glass ceiling in a deep red state says just as much about the electorate as it does the candidate.

"The people of South Dakota have always supported people they believed in," Noem said. "I'm just incredibly grateful and humbled by their faith in me. That will always keep me focused on making decisions that are best for them and their children and grandchildren."

While downplaying her achievement of becoming the first, female governor, she also didn't shy away from it.

"As you may know this last Nov. 5 was the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in South Dakota. So 100 years and 1 day after this great state extended women the right to vote, they elected the first woman as governor," Noem said. "I am proud of how far we have come."

Simply getting elected as a woman is not enough for the Noem legacy.

"I want to be a governor for the next generation," Noem explains. She says she'll focus on policies and programs aimed at children, teenagers, and young adults to help them succeed.

To that end, she wants to look at the education system, build industry from the ground up, and encourage young people to stay in South Dakota.

However, that project could play a back seat role in the coming days. As the legislative session kicks off, the budget will get the first priority from the new administration.

"We’re going to be working and finalizing a budget that balances without raising taxes. That is the number one responsibility," Noem said. "Beyond that we’ll be working on policy initiatives that I have been talking about for the last year and a half and making sure we have legislation ready to when the session starts on Tuesday."

Some state lawmakers are hoping Noem will be a more conservative governor than the previous one. However, that could be wishful thinking as she alludes to a bipartisan approach in her leadership.

"I promise to govern in a way that will benefit all people of South Dakota. From Rapid City to Sioux Falls. From Buffalo to North Sioux City. From Pine Ridge to Sisseton," Noem said. "My door will always be open to listen."

There was another first as well. Brian Noem will becomes South Dakota's First, First Gentleman.