Single Mom Seeking: We hope so.
"It takes a Mother to clean House!" -- or so says Jessica Sandlin's campaign slogan. I got a chance to sit down with Jessica, a writer and mother of five who has decided to run for Congress in Virginia's Second District. Go ahead, Jessica -- on behalf of mamas everywhere!
momlogic: I read a bit of background, and it sounds like you're running against a handful of Republican men in Virginia -- true?
Jessica Sandlin: I am running for Congress in Virginia's Second District because it is time to transform the conversation occurring at the highest policy levels in America by adding the voices of Conservative women. The clock has struck twelve, the coach is a pumpkin and we await the sunshine to illuminate the shadows. Election Day will be a turning point in the 2nd District.
There are six candidates on the ballot for the June 8 Republican primary, and I am the only woman. The winner of the primary will go on to run against our incumbent and two Independents in November. I bring a fresh perspective to the policy conversation, and I will carry my day-to-day experiences as a parent, a volunteer, a former military officer's spouse and a former teacher to Washington with me.
ml: So, what inspired you to run for Congress?
JS: My partner is very political, and he began encouraging me to run last year when I was looking for a job in the nonprofit sector. I put him off, thinking he was kidding -- I have no political experience! Finally he sat me down, showed me some number-crunching that illustrated how a win was possible for a woman in a primary with a broad field of candidates, and had me look at the current field.
Once I did, I realized that my particular beliefs as a small-government fiscal Conservative but also a supporter of individual liberties -- social moderate -- wasn't represented by any of the men running. I took a class in campaign management, talked to the two people I admire most in the world -- my parents -- and began quietly gathering signatures to get my name on the ballot.
As I spoke to hundreds of people, I realized that the time was right for someone who wasn't "politics as usual," and that I could bring the day-to-day issues to the highest levels of policy conversation to benefit parents, families, women and children. I saw how my background uniquely qualified me to represent many groups of people, from military spouses and families to single parents, from teachers to stay-at-home caregivers. I grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., and I have worked for the federal government. I can contribute on behalf of my district!
Congress is currently 17 percent women, and women make up only 10 percent of the important committees. It's not why I'm running, but it fuels my fire! Women bring a different perspective, and I think that's more critical than ever. You've heard that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result"? Well, instead of electing the same type of people to higher office again and expecting change, let's send a concerned, educated citizen-legislator who happens to be a single mother!
ml: You have five school-aged kids! How do you have the time and energy for all this?!
JS: Well, I don't, of course! Not more than anyone else, and it has actually surprised me how insanely busy the schedule is in a campaign. I try to take care of myself, get enough sleep, etc., but mostly I think I am running on hope for my children's future -- and yours! I have two jobs right now: mother of five busy kids and Congressional candidate. Both are important, and both demand my attention. I don't have a nanny and my partner does not live with me, so if the teenager needs a listening ear for an hour, or the sixth grader needs help with his math, it's on me. I haven't lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day, I want to be Virginia's Second District Congresswoman AND a successful mom. Having said that, my children are SUPER supportive of the campaign and really proud that their mom is making a difference! They love the bumper stickers, too!
ml: Why did you and your husband split? Is he there for you and the kids as a co-parent?
JS: There were irreconcilable differences -- that pretty much sums it up. We've been apart for over nine years. He currently lives in northern Virginia, but is moving back to Virginia Beach next month with his job. The children live with me, but they do see their dad as much as possible, and we have a solid co-parenting relationship. He is very supportive of my Congressional run.