Born In: Watertown, South Dakota, United States
Kristi Noem is an American politician who is currently serving as the 33rd governor of South Dakota. The Republican Party member assumed office in 2019 and is the first female governor of South Dakota. Prior to this, she served as the U.S. Representative for South Dakota's at-large congressional district from 2011 to 2019. She was the fourth woman to represent South Dakota in Congress. Before that she represented the 6th District in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she adopted a hands-off approach and refused to issue state-wide mask mandates or stay-at-home orders citing a desire to respect residents' personal freedoms and responsibilities. She, however, left the communities the flexibility to do so. She also raised doubts about the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of the virus. The absence of state-wide action to contain the spread of COVID-19 invited criticism from residents, local officials as well as other city and county leaders.
Also Known As: Kristi Lynn Noem
Spouse/Ex-: Bryon Noem (m. 1992)
father: Ron Arnold
mother: Corrine Arnold
children: Booker Noem, Kassidy Noem, Kennedy Noem
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: South Dakota
Ancestry: Norwegian American
Notable Alumni: Northern State University, South Dakota State University
education: South Dakota State University (2011), Northern State University (1990–1992), Mount Marty University
Kristi Noem was born as Kristi Lynn Arnold on 30th November 1971 in Watertown, South Dakota to Ron and Corinne Arnold. Her parents—farmers and ranchers—raised her and her siblings on their family ranch and farm in rural Hamlin County.
For her education, she went to Hamlin High School and graduated from there in 1990. While there, she won the South Dakota Snow Queen title.
She then joined Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota; however, in 1994 the unexpected death of her father in farming accident made her drop her studies and return to manage the farm and ranch business along with her brother. There they raised cattle, corn, soybeans, and wheat and even opened a hunting lodge and a restaurant.
Later, she resumed her studies and took courses at the Watertown campus of Mount Marty College and at South Dakota State University. She also took online classes from the University of South Dakota.
She pursued her education even after being elected to Congress and finally obtained her Bachelors of Arts degree in political science from South Dakota State University in 2012.
Initially, Kristi Noem was appointed a member of South Dakota’s Farm Service Agency committee. The agency is responsible for implementing programs and loans established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2006, she contested for the seat of South Dakota House of Representatives and emerged victorious. She represented the 6th District – which included Beadle, Clark, Codington, Hamlin and Kingsbury counties – and in 2008 was elected for a second term too. Her term at South Dakota House of Representatives lasted between 2007 and 2010.
During her second term, she served as an Assistant Majority Leader and was on the State Affairs Committee and Taxation Committee. She sponsored bills to reduce the compulsory education age from eighteen to sixteen stating that the higher compulsory education age had not proved successful in bettering graduation rates. Additionally, she successfully passed state budget cuts and prevented tax increases.
In 2011, Kristi Noem was elected the U.S. Representative from South Dakota's At-Large Congressional District defeating Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Independent B. Thomas Marking. She was subsequently re-elected and continued in the office till 2019. With this, she became the fourth woman to represent South Dakota in Congress.
In 2011, along with another first-term congressman Tim Scott, she was elected to represent the 87-member freshman class in party leadership meetings. This made her the second woman member of House GOP leadership. She also joined the Republican Study Committee and was included, as one of the regional directors, to help the NRCC in the 2012 elections.
During her tenure as the U.S. House Representative, she worked on the Natural Resources Committee, Education and the Workforce Committee, Agriculture Committee, Committee on Armed Services and Ways and Means Committee.
She was also a member of Congressional Cement Caucus, Congressional Arts Caucus, Afterschool Caucuses and Congressional Western Caucus.
She backed a legislation to fight human trafficking and sexual slavery, promoted bills that would decrease American dependence on foreign oil and worked to pass the 2014 Farm bill and the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. She favoured the repeal of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
She also backed former president Donald Trump’s travel ban that banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the United States for 90 days.
She is against same sex marriage and is also anti-abortion.
In 2018, Kristi Noem defeated democratic nominee Billie Sutton to become the first woman in South Dakota’s history to be elected governor and one of three Republican women governors in America. As the 33rd governor of South Dakota, her term began in 2019 and will continue till 2023.
In office, she signed a bill that allowed people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit in South Dakota and also several bills that aimed at curbing abortion. She opposed the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana. The amendment was finally struck down by a South Dakota judge.
In 2019, she acknowledged that Trump’s trade war with China and the European Union had negatively impacted her state’s economy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she adopted a hands-off approach and did not issue state wide face mask mandates raising doubts over the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of virus. She left local government the flexibility to make masks mandatory as per the needs of their community.
She was amongst the few governors who did not issue lockdown restrictions. She never directed any business to close, nor gave state wide orders to stay at home or issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order.
Despite warnings from health experts, she did not make social distancing and wearing masks mandatory at a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore and supported the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. She also spent the coronavirus relief fund on a state tourism campaign.
The state ranked second in cases per-capita and eighth in deaths per capita among U.S. states.
In 2021, Kristi Noem signed the Senate bill 124, a religious freedom bill which according to its supporters was meant to protect churches from closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the bill attracted a lot of criticism from civil rights groups as per whom the bill would lead to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, women, and members of minority faiths.
In 1992, at the age of twenty, Kristi Noem married Bryon Noem. The couple have three children Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker. The family resides at the Racota Valley Ranch near Castlewood, South Dakota.
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