Q1. You had an unusual childhood – what was it like to grow up in rural Alaska?
Ruth Anderson: I was one of three daughters born into a very adventurous family that stayed in Alaska after my father’s service in World War II. Before moving to Minnesota in the 60s, we had lived in five Alaskan villages: Nome, Bethel, Unalaska, Unalakleet and Russian Mission. With amenities like roads, plumbing and electricity hard to come by, our focus was on family, helping out in our father’s trading posts and enjoying the Alaskan wilderness. In one village we had our own dog team. I learned perseverance, how to overcome obstacles and the wonder of nature!
Q2. You served in senior leadership positions throughout your career in the U.S. Air Force, including as Chief Nurse at Hickam Air Force Base. What aspects of your military experience prepared you best to serve as an elected official?
RA: I am grateful for my military career…from day one in the military, I was honed to lead small to very large projects and groups…all focused on accomplishing a mission and realizing a vision to preserve the American dream and America’s freedoms. In elected office, I continue on that mission.
Q3. Your experience in health care is extensive and varied, from working in a neonatal intensive care unit to working for the Brother’s Brother Foundation to organize international shipments of medical supplies. Are there some advances in health care (either in practice or policy) that you’re particularly excited about? If you could wave a wand, what aspects of health care would you change?
RA: From watching my mother provide first aid in Alaska, to being on the cutting edge of medicine as a nurse in a Mayo Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Minnesota, to serving in many military facilities and leading over a dozen humanitarian mission trips to rural Asia in recent years, I now care most about the prevention aspect of healthcare. I believe we should make policy, plan our communities and incentivize projects and businesses that help to prevent disease. This includes preserving our environment with plenty of green space, promoting natural foods and creating walkable, bikable communities.
Q4. You’re serving your first term on the Board of County Supervisors, although you’ve lived in Prince William County and been an active community volunteer since 2001. Were there elements of serving in elected office that surprised you? What advice would you give others who might be considering running for office?
RA: Having worked on campaigns since 2003, I can honestly say that almost nothing surprised me about local elected office. However, I was pleasantly encouraged by the effort in Virginia and beyond to think regionally…that is why I am honored to serve on the VACo Board of Directors. My advice to those considering running for office: “Be passionate about being a public servant and enjoying the people and communities you serve. The challenges and sacrifices of time and energy are enormous, but the opportunities are even greater! You will never please everyone you represent, but you can work on building consensus for the greater good every single day you are privileged to serve.”
Q5. In your view, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Prince William County in the next ten years?
RA: Prince William County is similar to all Northern Virginia jurisdictions…the need for economic development that is not dependent on the federal government, mitigating traffic congestion while welcoming an increasing population, keeping our communities safe from current and emerging threats and encouraging changes in education to provide the workforce for tomorrow. I love the opportunities all of these challenges bring. Even in my first three years, our Board has enjoyed approving projects to improve transportation, save green space, improve public safety and encourage workforce education. Each day, I do something to help move more good projects forward.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle