Kristi Noem Profile
Dakota Digest - 06/02/2010
By Jenifer Jones
On today's Dakota Digest we continue our series of candidate profiles. This week we're focusing on the three republicans running for the nomination to the US House of Representatives. The winner of the June 8th primary will face incumbent democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in November. Today a profile of Kristi Noem.
Kristi Noem never planned on getting involved in politics. But after taking over her family farm and ranch, she learned how the government can have an impact on businesses. This prompted her to run for the State House of Representatives. After serving two terms, she has set her sights on bringing business principles to Washington D.C. as a U.S. Representative.
Kristi Noem has lived in South Dakota her entire life. When her father passed away, Noem left college to farm with her family near Castlewood. She also owned and operated a hunting business, helped manage a restaurant, and owns an insurance agency with her husband. She raises horses, and used to raise cows, but sold them to pay for her campaign. She's spending part of her Saturday morning showing me around her ranch. Horses quitely poke their heads through the windows of Noem's truck as a way to say hello. Noem then gives me a tour of the native pasture land that makes up much of her ranch.
"One of my earliest memories of this place was coming here when dad was trying to decide if he wanted to purchase this land, and seeing the pasque flowers and just him talking about them and that they grow on native soil and that they're the state flower," Noem says. "And so every spring when we see them it's kind of a promise and an excitement over the fact that some things in South Dakota don't change."
And while some things in South Dakota don't change, Noem believes that some things in Washington do need to change. That's why Noem decided to run for national office.
"I've been very disturbed over the direction that things are going in Washington DC," Noem says. "Our lack or ability to have the will to balance a budget, the legislation they keep passing that continues to put debt upon this country, I'm very concerned about that. I think we need people out there willing to serve who are willing to make some tough decisions and apply some common sense business principles to a lot of this legislation that's being passed."
Noem says small businesses, farms, and ranches are extremely important to South Dakota's economy and says it's important that South Dakota's Representative understands how government regulation affects these areas every day.
"We need to cut government," Noem says. "We need to make sure that we're allowing businesses the freedom to reinvest in our economy, not over regulate them to the point that they don't know what to expect and our living scared as to what kind of intervention will come from the government."
That business approach to government has gained Noem some supporters, including Richard Steen. He's holding a campaign event on his farm for Noem and other South Dakotans running for various offices.
"I'm tired of politicians," Steen says. "I think we need business people running our government. We've had all the people we need from Harvard and Yale, because they've sold this country down the river."
Amongst the din of a potluck supper, Noem says she's right at home, campaigning on a farm. That's why she says if elected she, her husband, and their three children will continue to live in South Dakota. Noem says she wants to be known as a Representative who truly reflects South Dakota values and fights for the people of the state. And just like the pasque flowers on her family farm, Noem insists she won't change.
"I think people know that if they know me they know that I'm tough, and that I'm honest and I tell the truth," Noem says. "And people ask me all the time, ‘how do we know you won't change?' And the best answer I always have for them is that you need to ask my family and the people who know me; because they have no doubt that I will be steadfast in my principles and convictions."
Noem says her number one priority is to get the nation's debt under control. She says she plans to do that by looking at every department within the government, determining whether the departments are accomplishing their purposes, and then making cuts. She says she also wants to make some cuts to budgets for congressional offices. Above all, she says Congress needs to fix its spending problem.
"We know for a fact, every analyst, every economist that has looked at it says what we are doing right now is unsustainable," Noem says. "That's unacceptable. And it jeopardizes everything. Every program, every ag program, Medicare, social security, all of those are in jeopardy if we don't get our debt under control and stop spending money we don't have."
Noem considers herself a proven leader. She ran for the executive board her first term in the state House of Representatives, and currently serves as the Assistant Majority Leader. She says that, plus her knowledge of agriculture and business experience makes her the right person to represent South Dakota in Washington D.C. Noem says she sees problems with the decisions Congress is making, and says she feels it's time to get involved.
"I look at my kids and think about the way that my dad raised me, to be somebody who's not one to sit in the back and be upset and complain about the way things are, but to do something, to be active," Noem says. "And that's how I'm trying to raise my kids too. I think that I have the ability to go out there and truly give some input that's needed."
Noem is hoping South Dakotans feel she has the ability to lead as well, when she faces Blake Curd and Chris Nelson in the primary election on June 8th.
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