The daughter of court reporters, Susan B. Stimpson was raised to believe that if she wanted to be president of the Unites States that she could be.
"My dad nurtured me to believe in whatever dream I had," she says. "That I could be whatever I wanted if I worked hard.
Her mother always worked but, according to Stimpson, never felt like she was working since she was able to adjust her schedule to make time for her and her younger sister.
Growing up on Maryland's eastern shore, Stimpson was an anomaly from the start. She's a fierce competitor, a trait she shares with no one else in her family, who she says were "laid back."
"I was always very driven. I started babysitting at age 10 and babysat through college. It had something to do with the confidence my parents instilled in me."
Now, the wife and mother of two teens who rose from a stay-at-home mom to a conservative, yet socially concerned public servant talks about politics and family.
Fredericksburg Parent: What fuels you?
Susan B. Stimpson: Children are my real joy. They are my happy place. It drives a lot of what I'm doing now. What we're doing to make our community stronger. To create that loving, confident environment I grew up in. I want that for the State."
FP: What's your home life like now that you're running for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia?
SBS: With a statewide campaign, it's busy. I make sure the kids have what they need and that we're not abandoning their needs. My husband and I adjust our schedule to accommodate piano, guitar, boy scouts ... the normal family schedule. When you add the statewide campaign, it becomes a family event.
FP: How did you go from stay-at-home mom to public servant?
SBS: I had been involved in the GOP in every community we've lived in — Florida, California and now here. I came to my first Stafford Republican Party meeting in January of 2007 and by May I was chairperson. It was fun and I enjoyed it. In November of 2009, I won election in Falmouth District.
FP: How does elevating to a statewide campaign change the dynamic of your family?
SBS: My husband is incredibly supportive and doing everything to help me on [the campaign]. My kids are shy and would prefer mom not doing it, but the whole family is invested in it and we're operating as a team. My kids are getting better about helping with laundry and with dinner and with overall attitude. They are really part of the team.
I'm on the road campaigning most weekends. There are few nights that I'm home, but we do incorporate the family on the trips so that I'm not away every night. I have flexibility, so I'm with them in the morning and can time it so that I'm with them after school. I get dinner ready, settle them and then my husband takes over and I go to meetings. It took a while to get into rhythm, but we have a structure that works.
FP: How do you balance the house when you're not available?
SBS: I keep my phone handy, so my kids know they can text me. I know any mom can understand this. During board meeting, I look at my phone to make sure they get home and set for the day.
FP: What about your work in Stafford County has been the crowning jewel of your work here?
SBS: The strength in Stafford is we have a great financial story. We've lowered taxes and increase economic revenue. It's the partnerships we've formed that have also strengthened our schools. Before I came there was no relationship between the school board and board of supervisors.
There is always hope when you have a relationship and you're working together and you're talking through the issues. We have had a team effort here in Stafford on our board. The principles for governing have worked. I want that same success for all of Virginia.
FP: What makes you different as a candidate?
SBS: I have a story to tell. There are seven candidates running and Virginia has never had a female Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Office Manager. The last female to run was 1961.
I hope as a woman to offer a different perspective. The more perspectives you bring, the better results you'll have, I believe. It's not about, "Oh, we have to have a female." It's about having a new perspective on budget, economy and reform of education.
FP: What goes into a campaign?
SBS: Understand why you're running and what it is you want to do. Then you have to talk to leaders in the different communities to see if they're on board with your vision and candidacy and then you get into the nuts and bolts: campaign plan, who will run it and how many votes you need.
FP: How would winning office change your family's dynamic and lifestyle?
SBS: First, I wouldn't have to move because Lieutenant Governor is a part-time job. I'd be traveling every day we're in session. The months in session would be challenging, but the rest of the year, my job would be to forge coalitions to move the ball forward on our principals of conservative governing. That won't be as intense as being in session, though.
FP: Your children are in their pivotal high school years. What do they think?
SBS: This would be during my daughter's senior year and my family believes this is what I should be doing. It's important that they feel invested. They know that it's not Mom trying to be somebody, but mom trying to do something.
Winning will not change who I am, though, I will still be a wife and mom first.
FP: Is your family different from any other family that you represent?
SBS: No. We're just like other families trying to balance family, the challenging economy and wanting to pursue our dreams. What you see in our family is what you see in others: a husband and wife trying to work together to balance the needs of the kids. Our family is a lot like other Virginia families.
I had to make a decision as a mother that some things have to go so that my kids can get what they need. I'm an avid competitive tennis player I used to go to D.C. and Richmond to play. I gave that up for my kids. You have to deliberately choose family time and put boundaries around that time.
My husband has given up things he enjoys so I can do this. We can't have it all at once.
When I'm in the car with my kids, I put my phone out of sight so my kids know they have my attention. I make deliberate decisions so my children see that I value them. It's funny because even though I put my phone away, they still think I'm on it all the time.
FP: Any advice for Virginia's youth?
SBS: You need to work hard, always give your best and never take no for an answer. If you work hard, your gender doesn't matter. I've been treated very fairly.
Chris Jones is the editor of Fredericksburg Parent. He grew up with grandparents who lived through segregation, but taught him that equality was first gained in the mind.