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Soldotna's Ruffridge to run for state house seat

Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media

Soldotna pharmacist Justin Ruffridge is entering the 2022 race for Alaska State House.

Ruffridge, a Republican, registered to run this week. Ruffridge co-owns Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, is on the Soldotna’s City Council and chairs the state’s pharmacy board.

Ruffridge lives in the same district as Soldotna Republican Rep. Ron Gillham, District 30 — though districts are somewhat in flux as the Alaska Redistricting Board makes adjustments this year.

Ruffridge said he’s been thinking of running for a while and has always found public service important. He identifies as a “classical conservative.”

"I would consider myself a conservative individual, but maybe not in the way that term has been used of late," he said. "I think there’s a humbleness that is needed in politics, that you don’t know all the answers, but that you’re willing to learn and work with people on complex issues. And those things should change over time. Not immediately.”

Credit Soldotna Professional Pharmacy
Justin Ruffridge.

Earlier this month, Rep. Gillham prefiled a bill that would require pharmacists dispense medication “for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and related diseases” if that medication has been prescribed by a physician. And it said the state board cannot discipline or deny a license to a pharmacist that prescribes those medications.

Ruffridge has said that pharmacists should be able to use their professional discretion when filling out prescriptions, and said he finds the bill dangerous.

"Frankly, I had made the decision much before that bill was prefiled," he said. "I will say that it certainly didn’t hurt my decision.”

Gillham has also registered to runfor the seat, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Gillham could not be reached immediately for comment.

Candidates have also already started filing for the state house seat representing the southern peninsula, held now by Homer Republican Rep. Sarah Vance.

Louie Flora has filed a letter of intent. Flora is a commercial fisherman based out of Homer and currently serves on the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors.

Paul Hueper also filed a letter of intent for state office, though his APOC forms do not say for which seat. The Senate seat for the lower peninsula, occupied by Kodiak Republican Rep. Gary Stevens, is also up for grabs. All but one state senator will have to run for reelection in 2022 due to redistricting.

Hueper and his wife Marilyn own Homer Inn and Spa. They said they were raided by the FBI last year in pursuit of Nancy Pelosi’s laptop following the Jan. 6 insurrection. The feds later charged another familywith taking the laptop.

Vance and Stevens both also filed forms to run for reelection in 2022.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
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