February 19, 2018

“Be bold, be respectful, be a leader”

I recently had the opportunity to attend a program with the Ventura County Women’s Political Council. It was an appreciated dose of inspiration. During the program, I had the privilege of listening to the Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California (the first Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice).

Much of what she spoke about was relevant to issues that our community is facing at this time. She talked about how our strength is in our diversity and that we should surround ourselves with diverse points of view, while remaining respectful to one another. I strongly believe in this viewpoint and see this approach to political discourse as more important now than ever. We live in a varied and dynamic society and must learn to live together and communicate on issues of concern without the anger and resentment that has recently become the hallmark of both our national and local politics. Opposing views and respect should not be mutually exclusive concepts. It is important that we learn to listen to and talk with one another without contempt, and keep in mind that, despite our differences, we are all in this together and should all have an opportunity to be heard.

Her parting words have lingered with me and I am going to let them guide me during my campaign - “be bold, be respectful, be a leader”.

A chance to say thank you -

As an added bonus to the morning, I had the much-appreciated opportunity to personally thank current State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. I interned for Senator Jackson when she was a California State Assemblymember in the Capitol while I was in college. Very early on, I observed that she thought about issues in a way many other representatives did not. She was able to identify gaps and anticipated unintended consequences with proposed legislation, and she asked thoughtful and probing questions.

Senator Jackson made a point of speaking one-on-one with her interns, something I was surprised to learn that other representatives did not do. During our discussions, she explained that her legal education taught her to think in this way. I wanted to learn these unique critical thinking skills and use those to benefit and advocate for others; My experience in her office solidified my decision to attend law school.

In each of our lives, there are moments and people that have a lasting impact on us. After so many years, it was great to thank her in person for being one of these people and providing me with this experience. It also reminds me what a big impact we can have on the lives of young people, when we treat them as worthy of our time and recognize what they have to offer to the world.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Jenny Fitzgerald at the Ventura County Women's Political Council