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Laurie Pryor, a longtime DFL activist, did not imagine running for office as she volunteered for other candidates over the years. She decided to run, however, after Rep. Yvonne Selcer declined to seek a third term. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)
Laurie Pryor, a longtime DFL activist, did not imagine running for office as she volunteered for other candidates over the years. She decided to run, however, after Rep. Yvonne Selcer declined to seek a third term. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Listening is key to communicating for Rep. Pryor

Name: Laurie Pryor

Title: Representative, District 48A

Education: B.A., English, Carleton College; M.A., speech communications, University of Minnesota.

As a communications consultant Rep. Laurie Pryor, DFL-Minnetonka, emphasized listening as she worked with groups and organizations on problem solving and team building. Pryor, now retired, nonetheless is applying her professional experience in her new role as a freshman representative.

“You have to listen under what they’re saying,” Pryor said. “It’s not to be distracted by what might be personally troublesome but to just keep listening on a deeper level. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Pryor, a longtime DFL activist, did not imagine running for office as she volunteered for other candidates over the years. She decided to run, however, after Rep. Yvonne Selcer declined to seek a third term.

Before taking office Pryor was providing full-time day care for her four grandchildren. She and her husband, Jon, CEO of Hennepin County Medical Center, are awaiting the arrival of a fifth in May.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. I like to learn about other people first. Introduce yourself. Let me know who you are and what’s important to you and in a given situation why you’re here.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. There’s a lot of real technical reading I’m trying to keep up with. When I’m done with that I’m just reading for pleasure. I’m reading Terry Pratchett books, the Discworld series. He does science fantasy and humor.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. I haven’t seen it here but we’re here in these beautiful public buildings and we all need to take care of that and not leave our trash in these public buildings.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Spending time with my grandkids. I was doing full-time child care before I got elected, so I really miss that now. On weekends and when we can get together, we visit with them. We have four now and a fifth due in May. It’s a 1-year-old right now through a 6-year-old. We have three children. They’re all married and live in Minneapolis and in May all three will have at least one child, so we’re really lucky.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. In Austin they’ve got this fabulous Spam Museum that they’ve just reopened and the (Jay C. Hormel) Nature Center, the parks and the farmland around Austin. In Minnetonka, my new hometown, we’ve been there for 27 years, it’s the trails and the parks there.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. One person that has inspired to be more involved and active in politics was my daughter. When she was in middle school she read about the civil rights movement. She was inspired and she brought different eyes to even her classroom. She saw discrimination. She saw evidence of racist statements and actions and she spoke up about it. When your child is leading the way it’s, like, “OK, I need to pay attention. I need to be an example for her too.”

Q. What would be one way to end partisan polarization?

A. It really is the listening piece. It’s not being persuasive and making the perfect arguments that change somebody’s mind but it’s listening to them and what their issues are and what concerns them and the reality that they’re speaking to. When you listen to that, you realize there’s so much you agree on. Then I think that you do have the potential to find solutions that really are meeting everybody’s needs. But it really takes that first step of listening and understanding.

Q. What is something very few people know about you?

A. My husband and I like to do weightlifting together. We’re not pushing ourselves to be on the extreme of things but we do lift weights. We go to the YMCA and we do the weights there. We encourage each other. We’re in it for the long haul. It’s a good discipline and it’s a good commitment to make.

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