North Dakota first lady’s departure will be bittersweet

BISMARCK – Mikey Hoeven already knows Tuesday will be an emotional day for her.

After 10 years as North Dakota’s first lady, she will need to give up the post when her husband officially steps down as governor. The Hoevens are moving to Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks for his new job as a U.S. senator.

“I will really miss the role of first lady,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed doing. It’s been a privilege for John and I to serve.”

It’s been a whirlwind month for the first lady as she scrambles to pack up the governor’s residence, pack up her office, get oriented to Washington, find a home in Bismarck and find a home in Washington.

“As a woman, you want to have your nest somewhere. That’s first and foremost in my mind – and for the children to know that they have a place to come to in North Dakota,” Hoeven said a week after Election Day.

Since then, the Hoevens have bought a home in Bismarck and found a Washington apartment to rent. They will move out of the governor’s residence and into their new Bismarck home within the next few weeks.

After Christmas, they will drive to Washington to begin their next journey of public service.

In the middle of so many changes, Mikey Hoeven sat down with Forum Communications to reflect on the past 10 years.

Q. What do you see as your major accomplishments as first lady?

A. I would say I raised awareness about the problem of underage drinking in North Dakota through my ad campaign and my public visits and so forth. And I think I had some impact in the arena of women’s health via my women’s health summits that I’ve had.

What do you see as your role in Washington?

I don’t know yet because we haven’t gotten there.

It’s going to take some time to get established, get moved in and settled. I’ve talked to a few of my counterparts. Some of them stay in their home state. Some of them go back and forth every weekend with spouses. Some don’t. So, (not) until I get there and get a sense of what’s going to work for me will I know the answer to that question.

Personally, how do you feel about the move?

I’m very excited about it. You know, we’ve had some time to think about this during the campaign, if it were to happen. I’m very excited about it.

(The Hoevens have two children: Marcela, 26, who lives in Minot, and Jack, 20, a junior at North Dakota State University.)

What do your kids think about the move?

Again, they’ve had a chance to think about this for a while. They’ve seemed very supportive of it.

When we first were trying to decide if we were going to do this, the biggest part of it for me was leaving the children in North Dakota.

But the reality is we will be back and forth quite a bit. And some of my friends along the way have reminded me that they (the children) are gone (from home). As simplistic as it sounds, I had to be reminded of that because I’m a mom first and foremost.

They seem to be just fine with the idea, which makes me feel fine about it, too.

What will you miss about North Dakota?

I’ll miss people met along the way, the places I’ve been, the experiences that I’ve had, the opportunities, our friends.

But again, we will be coming back and forth. But I will miss the job. I love serving as first lady, but I also feel a door will open for me in some other capacity either in North Dakota or in D.C. for me to get involved with, too.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

The last 10 years have been incredible years for us, both in terms of personal growth and in our jobs. It’s just been an incredible opportunity for us, and one that we will treasure and remember with very fond memories.

It’s been an honor to serve the people as North Dakota’s first lady.