Long History of Leadership and a Surprising "Endorsement"
If you've been driving around and have seen any of my large 4x4 signs, you may have noticed the word "Leadership" at the bottom of the sign. When designing the sign, we wanted to utilize a phrase or word that would sum up myself and my campaign. We tossed around a lot of ideas (when I say we, I mean my husband and me), we debated, we eliminated a lot of ideas. At first, I wasn't sold on the word "leadership" but the more I heard it, the more I realized it really does define me very well.
I am a lifetime member of Girl Scouts- spent 12 years as a Girl Scout, 4 years as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and ever since I have volunteered as often as I can at events and troop meetings. It is Girl Scouts that I credit as building my confidence in various aspects of life and my leadership abilities. I was hosting events for hundreds of people, organizing donation supply drives, and more well before graduating high school. I have always been taught to step up and take the lead when I see that things need to be done. The Girl Scouts website describes Girl Scouts as:
Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world.
Girl Scouts unleashes the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl, preparing her for a lifetime of leadership—from taking a night-time hike under the stars to accepting a mission on the International Space Station; from lobbying the city council with her troop to holding a seat in Congress; from running her own cookie business today to tackling cybersecurity tomorrow.
I earned the Girl Scout Gold Award- the highest award achieved in Girl Scouts. It takes an incredible amount of dedication, time, leadership, and innovation. To recognize the achievement, many of the state and national leaders send a letter acknowledging the effort and these letters are placed into an album and given to the recipients. I took a few moments to look through this album the other day and I stumbled upon a letter that made me smile...
Yes, that would be the current Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano. Back in the day, long before he ever endorsed my opponent, then Majority Leader State Representative Mike Fasano acknowledged that I "have proven my leadership, decision-making, and service to the community." He stated I "exemplify all the qualities that make this country great."
While this is obviously not an endorsement of the campaign, I had to stop and smile while reading this. It suddenly became clear to me that "leadership" was 100% the right word to use in my campaign. Everything Mr. Fasano said in this letter is true and I certainly have continued to grow and live up to the obligations placed before me. In March 2016, when North Carolina passed HB2, the "bathroom bill", I knew my obligation was to become a State Representative to be a voice for the people instead of special interests and corporations. And while Mr. Fasano may not remember writing this letter some 17 years ago, I look forward to hanging these kind words in my office in Tallahassee as a reminder that I've always been dedicated to real leadership and true service to my community and will continue to do so.