Serving for a Better Future
|Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 02:37 PM
When Lance Pruitt decided to run for the Alaska House of Representatives, he had one simple objective: “It really was more of a focus on the kids,” he said, “my kids and the future.”
Pruitt, a 2013 CSG Toll Fellow, knows from experience the exodus of bright Alaskans from the state simply because the opportunities are better in the continental United States.
“It’s amazing how many of the friends I went to school with are no longer in the state,” he said. “They had to search out other opportunities outside (of Alaska) because of the field they wanted to be in or the economic opportunities they felt they could access outside the state.”
That reality hit home when Pruitt and his wife Mary Ann had two sons, Jacob, 8, and Bryce, 4. Pruitt had several job offers that would have taken him out of Alaska, but he decided to stay.
“If I’m going to remain here, I felt it was important to make sure my kids, my neighbors’ kids, my friends’ kids, … that they have the same opportunity I have had,” he said.
Pruitt has worked for years in logistics and knows the challenges of getting people and things to and from Alaska. Resources and access to energy also pose challenges, he said.
“The cost (of energy and development) is so high in many places that that limits the growth you can have in certain industries,” he said.
Oil and gas make up about one-third of the state’s economy. The legislature passed a bill this year that is the first step in getting a natural gas pipeline built from the North Slope. Pruitt believes that will provide a more stable energy resource for the state, as well as bring more revenue into the state.
“As we make energy more stable, I think you open up different types of jobs and different types of opportunities for tomorrow,” he said.
Pruitt said he’d like to see the state open up the Arctic region, but recognizes that will take “getting the rest of the nation to understand that the U.S. is slow to react on that incredible opportunity,” while Russia, Canada and China already are reacting.
That will take time and leadership, he said.
Pruitt believes good leadership is open to a lot of different ideas, including the exploration of opening of the Arctic.
“I subscribe to the concept that no one holds a monopoly on good ideas,” he said. “That includes myself.”
In fact, he said, much of his success in the private sector has been because of his team.
“It wasn’t necessarily the one thing I did, but it was the teamwork and group that I happened to be managing,” he said. “Team leadership—bring people together and use their strengths to get to the ultimate goal.”
The CSG Toll Fellows program reinforced Pruitt’s ideas of what good leadership is.
“Toll Fellows allows that opportunity to express your concern and your issues and your perspective and the time to work with (the team’s) challenges in order to come up with a singular product that can benefit the largest number of people,” he said.
That was a good grounding for his job as an Alaska state legislature.
“Alaska is really diverse and we have people from all over with unique perspectives,” Pruitt said.
Before serving in the state legislature, Pruitt served on his community council in Anchorage. He believes in public service, but cautions people to make sure their families are prepared for the life changes it brings.
“It’s not about this idea of, ‘I’m going to be something,’” he said. “I know sometimes, people can walk into this with stars in their eyes. But you have to be able to do it just because you think it’s the right thing.”