Republican Kristi Noem will be South Dakota’s next governor.

Noem beat democrat challenger Billie Sutton with 51 percent of the vote. It was a hotly contested race and the numbers were close up until the end.

KELOLAND’s Brady Mallory caught up with Noem after the race was officially called.

Brady Mallory: It was a long night, and a very close race, but South Dakota voters have said yes to Noem. Kristi Noem will be the next governor of South Dakota. I’m here with the candidate herself. Kristi, how are you feeling?

Kristi Noem: I’m doing good, Brady. We’re feeling very blessed the people of South Dakota put their trust in my to be the next governor of South Dakota. 

Brady Mallory: You told me a story about how you and your mom and your family always go vote together. What did that feel like today?

Kristi Noem: You know, today was pretty special. We knew it would be a close race, so we actually went and voted in my hometown of Hazel together, and then went up to the cafe and just sat. It was really only family in the cafe this morning. And told stories, and talked about growing up together, losing my dad. Really just all the ups and downs of life and how we’ve always been together through it all. 

Brady Mallory: Is it special having your mom here with you, but also thinking about your dad tonight?

Kristi Noem: It is. You know, she has always had such a soft tender heart. She’s the sweetest woman anybody knows. So, losing my dad was very hard on her. And throughout the years, all of us have just supported her and she has supported us in return. Of course we miss dad, we talk about him every day. That’s one thing that has always really surprised me, you would think the grief would lessen over time but it never really does. 

Brady Mallory: Let’s talk about some of the things you’ve run on. You’ve talked a lot about keeping taxes low, supporting business, and developing the workforce. How do you keep those promises? 

Kristi Noem: Oh, I think those are things I will use my experience to hit the ground running on. I’ve started businesses myself, in fact I’ve run businesses in the two largest industries in the state: agriculture and tourism.  So, that experience will be very helpful doing that. I think it’s important to remember I’m a mom, so I view everything through the eyes of a mom. And our education system is one that is extremely important to our success in our future. Making sure we are putting resources in our classroom, we’re valuing teachers, but also we’re equipping our kids to fill the workforce needs we have in the state and really set them up for careers where they can be successful and stay here, around their family, and be supported.

Brady Mallory: You spoke with your opponent Billie Sutton earlier, and you both had a heck of a race. Did he make you work harder?

Kristi Noem: We’ve always worked hard in our races, but he definitely had a team focused on winning. So, every day they were out there working as well. We recognized in order to win this race, we needed to talk to as many people as possible. They needed know for sure what my record was, what my experience was, and what kind of results I wanted to deliver.