Lubnau Meets Challenges Head On
By Krista Rinehart, CSG Toll Fellows Program Manager
Wyoming Rep. Tom Lubnau has never been one to shy away from a challenge. In fact, it was a direct challenge from a disgruntled constituent that led him to run for office in the first place.
“After a difficult tort reform campaign, a physician scolded me: ‘You lawyers have screwed this all up. Now you have to fix it!’” said Lubnau. “I told him that was a challenge I was willing to take. About two weeks later, my state representative resigned. I spoke with my wife and we decided to put my hat in the ring.”
He won by 32 votes.
Since joining the legislature in 2005, Lubnau has accepted many challenging roles, including a stint as speaker pro tem from 2007 to 2008 and his current role as majority floor leader. In addition to improving his leadership skills on the House floor, Lubnau has also participated in a number of leadership development training opportunities, including the Western Legislative Academy. He also was selected to participate in the 2011 Toll Fellows Program. Both WLA and Tolls proved worth the time commitment for the busy lawyer and legislator.
“As far as experiences that have most profoundly impacted my desire and ability to serve, it’s a tie between the CSG Western Legislative Academy and the Toll Fellows experience,” said Lubnau. “Both have introduced me to new and different horizons and challenged me as a legislator and leader.”
Lubnau is a self-deprecating fellow who uses his keen sense of humor to disarm tense legislative negotiations and to help maintain much-needed perspective of what is really important.
“One of my political mentors is former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson,” said Lubnau. “Al is known for his courage, his knowledge of self and his quick wit. I have been known to take on difficult political tasks and try to approach them with humor, too.”
Lubnau models his approach to relationship building and dealing with colleagues from both sides of the aisle after another role model, former Wyoming House Speaker Roy Cohee.
“Roy always made you feel like you were at home in his office,” remembers Lubnau, “and he also made you feel special when you were working with him. I have always tried to follow Roy’s example in dealing with people.”
Now, a legislative leader in his own right, Lubnau hopes to provide a good example to new legislators as well. As far as advice for freshman legislators, he keeps it simple: “Tension in ideas makes us stronger. Tension in personalities does not. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
In addition to his leadership roles within the state, Lubnau also has accepted several important roles with CSG’s national organization, including his current stint as co-chair of the Energy and Environment Task Force. He sees energy policy as an important issue to Wyoming and other Western states and welcomes the opportunity to help shape the discussion on these important issues.
“We, the Western states, need to guide the nation to an energy policy that takes into account the world marketplace,” said Lubnau. “We have the resources, the technology and the people to develop our energy resources in a responsible way and still foster economic growth. We need to structure a system that moves defensive bureaucracy out of the way and allows us to create jobs, revitalize our economy and increase our standard of living in a responsible way.”
One resource the West does not have an abundance of is water. Lubnau recognizes this shortage and will lead an important discussion on Western water issues at the upcoming CSG National Conference and North American Summit in Bellevue, Wash.
“Western water is our scarcest resource,” admits Lubnau. “The tension between environment, jobs and quality of life are all going to boil down to how we address the issue of scarce water. Winners and losers will be determined based upon water allocation in the West.”