Justin Ruffridge, a Soldotna pharmacist and small business owner, filed his letter of intent to run for the Alaska State House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Ruffridge, a conservative, is vying for Alaska House incumbent Rep. Ron Gillham’s seat. Ruffridge currently serves on the Soldotna City Council.
In an interview with the Clarion on Friday, Ruffridge said concerns of hyper-partisanship was one reason he decided to run for the state Legislature.
“One of the bigger reasons to run right now, I think, is to try to be a reasonable, pragmatic person,” he said. “There are a million more things that we agree on than that we disagree on.”
Ruffridge, who owns Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, said he thinks his experience as a pharmacist will serve the state House well, especially as the world is still experiencing daily changes regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think health care is just a huge misunderstanding, sometimes for a lot of people in lawmaking, because a lot of people don’t have experience in that sector,” Ruffridge said. “There’s a lot of issues facing our state that have a health care basis and foundation, and having people that can speak to that is important.”
He said while he values people’s choice and doesn’t support mask mandates, he will support the public health care system and promote proven COVID prevention, mitigation and treatment measures.
As a business owner, Ruffridge said he also will run on a platform of fiscal responsibility and valuing efficient state spending.
“I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to look at things with a business mindset,” he said.
Ruffridge said part of fiscal responsibility is recognizing the needs of diverse communities across the state.
“We have things that are important to our infrastructure and to people, not just on the road system,” he said. “I think sometimes we forget that Alaska has a huge variety of people, groups that look very differently in their lives, and need resources from the state in different capacities.”
Regarding the state budget, Ruffridge said he wants to work efficiently in passing legislation, especially when it comes to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.
“We keep using the PFD as a bargaining chip, both in politics and in budget talks,” he said. “It led to massive waste during our last multiple extra sessions.”
On Alaska energy production, Ruffridge said he believes in a slow approach to moving toward more sustainable development.
“Knowing that there are issues that need to be addressed and trying to do so in little increments, making these decisions to try new pathways to encourage other forms of energy but knowing that oil and gas is the backbone of Alaska economy — and will be for some time — you have to support both,” Ruffridge said.
He said one of the central pillars of his campaign will be on collaborating to represent an array of people.
“Compromise has always been one of the greatest tools of democracy,” Ruffridge said. “I like to be a problem-solver, I like to see all aspects of an issue, I’m a quick learner, and I think it takes all those things to be a good representative.”
He said his campaign website, voteruffridge.com, isn’t live yet but should be in the next few weeks.
The election is this November.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.