Here at The Sister Project, we thrive on exceptionally inspiring women. Those who pave the way by showing women of all ages to go after their dreams and aspirations. Whatever your goals are – they are never too big or too lofty to wake up every morning and do something to get yourself one step closer to accomplishing them. When we think of someone who implements this mantra on a daily basis, we think of our dear friend, Bridget Fitzgerald.
Determined. Dedicated. Inspirational.
Those are the words that come to mind when we think of Bridget. We’ve heard time and time again, “if you don’t like what is going on around you and in government, run for office!” Fitzgerald heard those words loud and clear, and that is exactly what she is doing. She sees room for changes and improvements and she’s ready to make them. Her drive is incredibly strong and so is her passion to give back to her community. (We love a good red lip too and boy, can she pull that off well!) We are incredibly excited to share with you, and perhaps introduce to you, our friend and one of our biggest inspirations, Bridget Fitzgerald, Democratic candidate for Illinois State Senate, District 41.
Bridget, for lack of better words, you are a bad ass. What and/or who inspired you to run for Illinois State Senate?
Bridget: Last year, when the woman who held this office for twenty years voluntarily stepped down, I was shocked. It was an unexpected announcement to the entire Illinois political industry. My mother encouraged me to ‘throw my hat in the ring’ with 18 other potentials to run for the seat on the Democratic side. Throughout a four-month screening process, I was selected as the most compelling candidate. I’m running because I know I will be a better representative of the 41st Senate District. I will work for everyone in my community while upholding the values of my district and having the vision to steer our state in a positive direction.
What is the most rewarding and exciting aspect of running for office?
Every time I see a young person at the front door when I am canvassing.
That positive interaction is by far the most rewarding part of running for office. When children are developing and we ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They usually respond with a profession they have seen like a firefighter, postal worker, business person, or even a superhero like they see on TV (or, in my case, the fruit lady I had seen in the Chiquita banana commercials!). If young people do not interact or see a possible career path, we are limiting their vision of the future. Every time I see a young person at the door, I know I have given them “elected official” as an option for what they might want to be when they grow up. Kids need to see it to believe it.
What has been your biggest struggle and/or challenge during the campaign?
The biggest struggle is trying to reach the 220,000 constituents of the 41st Senate District. The challenge is explaining to people that I am running because I looked up to the woman who held the role before and I’m not satisfied with the appointee attempting to fill her shoes. I’m in this because I have a clear optimistic vision of the future. The constant rhetoric that “Illinois is terrible” and “everyone is moving out” is dated and unproductive. If you don’t like what you are seeing, get up, and do something. Stop complaining at your doorstep or with neighbors, and go volunteer for a candidate you believe in. If you don’t like your options, run for office yourself.
This campaign has taught me you can absolutely do whatever you put your mind to: create a clear vision, make a plan, and do it. Every. Single. Day. Do it.
What drives you?
What drives me? Positive motivations: my parents, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews.
What helps you get past any fears or negative inner dialogue?
What helps me get past any fears? Negative motivations: childhood bullies who have become overly successful as adults. If that doesn’t get everyone out to do something, I don’t know what can. It is our duty, as the nice ones who included everyone, to have the same grit, desire for success and unquestionable ego to fight for the common good. Any question or fear I have, I think about childhood bullies and immediately find the motivation to do the right thing. It is our duty to promote people who don’t promote themselves. I want to do everything I can to bring the unrecognized to the limelight. Bullies can’t keep winning. I’m not going to let that happen.
Who pushes you on a daily basis? Who is your biggest inspiration?
Easily, my mother. She is my strength because she is the strongest person I’ve ever met.
She gave me the courage to run for office.
What do you love most about you?
I have no problem introducing myself to strangers.
What about you do you struggle with and have to work on most?
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.
What is your go-to outfit/style like?
Sheath Dress, ¾ blazer, nude closed toe t-strap or ankle strap pumps and pearls.
While walking door-to-door: golf style.
Tell us one thing many people may not know about you?
I love working on my walking treadmill desk.
If you could have wine or coffee with any woman, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, Ann Richards, former governor of Texas. She dressed fabulously, had a tremendous amount of wit, and was far ahead of her time while running for office. She made an incredible speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. In it, she said:
“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”
What do you do on your downtime?
I love to call my childhood best friend – Audrey Leonard. Coloring is an amazing stress reliever. There’s something to be said about tuning out all distractions to enjoy a movie. I also love listening to pep-talk audio-books.
What message of inspiration do you have for all women reading this?
Give pep talks. Often, as women, we vent or ask for another person’s opinion. Sometimes, all we want to hear is that we are right and have been right the whole time, and just need encouragement to stay focused and stay motivated. I’m blessed to have my mother to remind me that my intuition is accurate and we don’t have time to doubt ourselves. There is no harder job in the world than being a mother – moms need coaches too. How many coaches are on a professional football team? How many coaches do moms get? Who has an ‘off- season’ and who has a lifelong contract of worrying and loving children full-time? Moms need coaches. Give a pep talk.
Name three women you love/want the world to know about.
Mary Ann Ahern: she has been the driving force of holding politicians accountable, asking tough questions all the while being graceful, poised and the mother of three kids. @ahernnbc5
Queen Rania of Jordan: international mission to empower women – using her platform for good. @queenrania
My sister Kieran: she is my inspiration. @kjfitz99
What global or social issue is closest to your heart?
The environment! Public health will constantly be a struggle with the global economy and there has to be a point where companies and governments recognize that the health of the community is more important than profit margin.
Tell us your favorite season and why.
Campaign Season! That would be fall. The colors are great and remind me of my cross country days in high school.
Do you have any must-have beauty products?
Aveeno Lotion and Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste (ha!).
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Internal alarm clock–to be free of an alarm clock for the rest of my life!
What tests your patience most?
When people ask how old I am. When did that become appropriate? Emily Post would not approve.
We wish you the best of luck this November, Bridget. YOU inspire us.
To follow Bridget Fitzgerald’s campaign:
Website : www.votebridgetfitzgerald.com
Instagram : @votebridgetfitzgerald
Facebook : Vote Bridget Fitzgerald