At her campaign launch party, Ruth’s 17-year-old daughter, Greta, introduced her to a packed house at American Flatbread in Middlebury. Below are Greta’s remarks.
When I was in seventh grade, one of my very first assignments for Social Studies class was to write an essay entitled “The Best Citizen I Know.”
I’ll give you one guess of who I chose.
I came home that night half excited and half nervous to tell my parents, because I felt bad that I couldn’t write about my dad, too. When I told him that, he just laughed. “Of course you should write about your mother, not me!” he said. “She’s a much better citizen than I am.”
After that, I proceeded to tell everyone I knew that I was writing about my mom. When I told one friend in particular, she responded, “Oh, that makes sense, with the tree planting thing she did and everything!”
I was first surprised and then immediately proud—a friend of mine had remembered that my mom had spearheaded a day of planting trees at Mary Hogan Elementary School to get more trees at our schools. A friend of mine thought my mom was cool not just because she was my mom, but because she was a leader and a good citizen! That was the moment when I realized, wait, my mom is cool. High praise from a seventh grader.
The essay itself was easy to write. After all, her interview was so good that it practically wrote it for me. I’m going to read you some quotes just to prove that Ruth Hardy is a consistent and principled candidate, because they sound like they could come from her campaign website, even though I swear she said them in 2012:
First, she said, “I think it’s important to be an informed citizen so that I can participate in our democracy, and advocate for policies, laws, structures, and leaders that reflect my core values — family, justice, integrity, love, equality.”
Let’s break this one down. Since 2012, my mom has gone above and beyond to “participate in our democracy,” primarily with her work on the school board. She has done nothing if not advocate for policies, like implementing foreign language instruction at Mary Hogan; structures, like a unified school district with one board instead of nine; and leaders, like the members of the task force against racism that she helped create.
Her core values have also never waivered. After all, she recently told the Addison Independent that if elected for State Senate, she would focus on issues affecting Vermont families, including universal child care and paid family leave.
But that’s not all. Back in 2012, she also said, “I try to help others be good citizens by acting as a role model and a catalyst – showing them how I participate, and giving them the courage to participate, too.”
Giving others courage to participate in government has been my mom’s job description for the past two and a half years. As Executive Director of Emerge Vermont, she has inspired and trained countless qualified women to run for office, a move that many of them would never have made without her. She likes to throw around the statistic that on average, women need to be asked to run seven times before they’ll even think about saying yes. For so many women, my mom has been the person to make one, or two, or sometimes even all seven of those asks.
But she hasn’t only encouraged grown women to participate in the government, and she hasn’t only done it in the role of Executive Director. She also does it every day as a mother. Without Ruth Hardy, there is no way I would have read a protest poem at the Women’s March on Montpelier, or that my sister and her friends would have testified for stronger gun control at the Statehouse. She inspires me and my sister and our friends to speak our minds as citizens and as girls. She has shown us that our voices matter, that we can and should make change in issues that matter to us.
All this in two sentences she said back in 2012. I think I’ve just proven that my mom is the most prepared candidate out there, because she’s basically had her stump speech written for over five years.
And, like mother, like daughter, because I’ve had this last part of my speech written for just as long. This is a paragraph of my “Best Citizen I Know” essay from seventh grade, which still holds absolutely true today, with just one single word changed.
“A person that actively participates in the community and in the government is a good United States citizen. My mother, Ruth Hardy, does both of these things, and even goes beyond them. She always makes an effort to be the best community member she can be, and to pass that skill on to her peers, friends, and children. She is involved in the government, she gets informed about the events in the state, country, and world, and she encourages others to be active. My mom is the best candidate I know.”