Kathleen Wrigley: What You Need To Know About Julie Fedorchak


…”Life’s a Great Balancing Act.” – Dr. Seuss

I was asked to write a story as a guest columnist, for a local women’s magazine, about Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. The theme of that particular issue was “Be Smart.” It was an easy segue for me to introduce Julie…because, well, she is smart. So I sat down with Julie for a formal interview. During the interview and afterward, I kept replaying—like a catchy song–one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes: “Step with care and great tact, and remember life’s a great balancing act.”

Here’s what I want North Dakotans to know about YOUR Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Julie Fedorchak is a fourth generation North Dakota woman. Her roots stretch from east to west, and are grounded in the soil of this special place. Julie was born in Williston, raised in Fargo, spent summers on her family farm in Stanley, and lives in Bismarck, where she and her husband, Mike, are raising their three children. Julie Fedorchak holds one of three seats as North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioner. She was appointed this post by the governor in December, 2012. After twenty-plus years of working on energy and policy issues, Julie has officially entered the world of politics as a candidate, and wants to continue to be your Public Service Commissioner.

Some of you may be wondering, “Why would Julie Fedorchak want to leap in to the modern political arena?” Let’s face it, it’s a reasonable question. Politics is a tough business. Campaign schedules can be taxing, especially when combined with a young, busy family. From coaching to volunteering at school, church, community and youth sporting events, Julie is involved in her kids’ active schedules. I was interested and asked, “Why do this now? And how do you balance a career, campaign, and a family?” Her explanation made me want to sign-up for something. To serve. Do.

Julie Fedorchak is the candidate, but her family weighed-in on the deliberations.

Julie admits, “We talked openly about the rigors of a campaign and the time needed to invest in this process. Honestly, without Mike and the kids’ support, I wouldn’t have jumped in. It helps that I’ve had two years of experience understanding what the job entails.” Her interest in politics and policy is a culmination of nature and nurture.

As the youngest of eight children, Julie Fedorchak is efficient, capable and grateful. Her parents, Duane and Dorie Liffrig, were politically active, on a grass-roots level, and have had a strong influence on her interest in preserving responsible public policy. They instilled a sense of duty to be involved. Julie’s dad was Highway Commissioner in Governor Al Olson’s administration. Duane and Dorie regularly reminded their children that, “Politics is important. You need to be engaged. This affects your family, your life, your business, and your future.”

Today, Julie’s dad, Duane, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Duane’s memory is nearly all faded, but he’s left an indelible, positive mark on his eight children, their children, and now their children. Duane’s legacy is deeply-rooted in his offspring. Each of them—in their own way–follow Duane’s instruction. They are involved. They are passionate and they serve, like they were taught.

So when I asked Julie “Why now?” She answered unequivocally, “Look. Would it be easier to do nothing? To walk away. Absolutely. Some familiar leaders in our state–like Earl Strinden, Ed Schafer, John Hoeven, to name a few—hired me and invested their time, effort, and trust in me when I was quite young. These experiences have given me a solid foundation for recognizing the responsibility of government, its limitations, too, and the implications both have on our environment. If not me, then who? If not now, then when? Public policy plays a significant role in all of our lives RIGHT NOW, and there are considerable implications that policy and government has on our families and the lives and futures of our children. Outside of faith, everything is submissive to politics. And I enjoy the political debate. The opportunity came packaged in an appointment to the PSC two years ago, and my family and I stood together and accepted the responsibility. It’s been interesting and fun and a real honor and I want to continue to serve.”

Julie Fedorchak is a wife and mother and she is your Public Service Commissioner—a job she’d like to continue after the November elections. Her young children bring her balance and humility. She laughs, “Our youngest, Sam, could care less about a hearing in Tioga, if I haven’t helped him construct his Halloween costume.” Her 12th floor office (in the Capitol) has a majestic view of the city, and is decorated with colorful artwork by her three biggest supporters: her children. Both views ignite in her a desire to stay the course. The blend of Julie Fedorchak’s faith, her parent’s guidance, her professional experiences and her love of North Dakota saturate her determination to serve. And through her living example, she nudges her own children to pick their passion and stretch their wings…”with care and great tact.”