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Endorsement: Experience matters for PSC, ag comission

We suggest voters take advantage of the experience of three candidates seeking reelection as agriculture commissioner and for spots on the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

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Experience should matter as North Dakota voters choose their leaders. And on Nov. 8, we suggest they take advantage of the experience of three candidates seeking reelection as agriculture commissioner and for spots on the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

In the race for agriculture commissioner, Doug Goehring has two important boxes checked on his resume as he runs for another term. First, he has that all-important on-the-job experience. He has been in charge of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture since 2009 and, in recent years, he says he has worked to address workforce shortages, supply chain issues and overreach by the federal government during his time in office. Whatever accomplishments he claims, it’s hard to find any particular issue that raises concern about electing him to his fourth full term in the office.

Second, and most important, Goehring is a farmer. He still runs a 2,000-acre family farm in south-central North Dakota, near Menoken. He also has served in a number of ag-related organizations, including the North Dakota Farm Bureau, the North Dakota Stockman’s Association and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

On Nov. 8, North Dakota voters will decide if Goehring, a Republican, should get another term as he faces Democrat Fin Dooley.

Dooley doesn’t have an agriculture background, but is an environmental lawyer from Bismarck who said he is running because he wants Goehring to learn more about – and invest more time in – land restoration in oil-producing areas. He said this election is his “last hoorah” and does not plan on winning.

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Dooley – simply by getting his name on the ballot – appears to have accomplished his goal of bringing more attention to land restoration. But let’s leave it at that.

We suggest voting for Goehring.

Public Service Commission

In the race for two spots on the Public Service Commission, voters should stick with incumbents Julie Fedorchak and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart. Both are Republican incumbents who, in our view, have done nothing that should keep them from continuing on the PSC.

Fedorchak, who is running against Democrat Melanie Moniz, has served on the commission since 2012. North Dakotans don’t seem to have any issues with her. She won a special election for her spot on the PSC in a special election in 2014. In 2016, she gained 69% approval to send her to a second term.

Moniz is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes but little else is known about her.

The other race for the PSC is more intriguing. Haugen-Hoffart has experience on the board, but also quite a bit of related board work before she was on the PSC, including time as a board member for Capital Electric Cooperative and Central Power Electric Cooperative. According to her bio on the PSC website, she has served as deputy state treasurer, director of education in the North Dakota Securities Department, coordinator for the University of North Dakota's Division of Continuing Education in Bismarck and emergency service director for the Burleigh-Morton Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Her opponent, Trygve Hammer, appears to be a good candidate – a former Marine officer who wants to keep utility rates low “while enriching and protecting our treasured landscape.” His leadership skills could be useful in office. But when he ran for a spot in the Legislature in 2020, he received only 12% of the vote.

Considering Haugen-Hoffart’s experience on the PSC and in other positions, we give her the edge.

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For PSC, our votes will go to Fedorchak and Haugen-Hoffart.

The endorsement represents the opinion of Forum Communications Co. management. 

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