Legislators optimistic about Noem inauguration
PIERRE, S.D. – Every shift in legislative power begins the same way: raise one’s right hand and say “I do solemnly swear.”
In South Dakota, the inauguration of Gov. Kristi Noem was precedent-setting, with Noem being sworn in as the state’s first female governor on Saturday.
An historic occasion, but not isolated. Four additional women were elected to legislative office during the 2018 balloting.
Republican Senator John Thune said people throughout the political spectrum have reason to honor the day.
“It’s clearly a very big and historic day for South Dakota,” Thune said. “It’s one that all South Dakotans, no matter … what side of the aisle you’re on politically, [are] going to celebrate.”
Noem did not rest on her laurels, however. Instead, she emphasized her desire to focus on being known as a hard-working governor, rather than the first female governor.
“The oath that I just took – it is a promise and a commitment to everyone in this state. I promise to govern in a manner that will benefit all people of South Dakota,” Noem said during her inaugural speech.
For each oath-taker – Noem included – there was an obvious feeling of excitement.
State Treasurer Josh Haeder was one of many whom laid one hand on a Bible and raised another in the air with pride that day.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be sworn in,” Haeder said. “The people should rest assured that we’re going to treat every day with integrity, and that we’re going to be responsible and accountable to them, and very transparent about what we’re doing.”
Many others also described a sense of anticipation for jumping right into the saddle of their job.
“Hitting the ground running on day one, plus getting payroll out the the 13,000 state employees will be a big job,” said State Auditor Richard Sattgast.
In the meantime, longtime legislators like Rep. Michael Diedrich of Rapid City will help acclimate the newly-elected to the capitol.
“What we try to do is work together to mentor new legislators so they can be successful,” Diedrich said. “[We’ll] respect what their ideas are, but help them do it in a thoughtful way, in a thoughtful process, and with values that they’re true to.”
Above all feelings, there was a shared enthusiasm in watching history take place – history that Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen hopes will inspire the next generation.
“Don’t be afraid about getting involved in government if you’re male or female, rural or urban. Just take a role in state government,” Fiegen finished.