Taking First Step toward Richmond

Taking First Step toward Richmond

Phillips seeks to reach average voter.

As a 20-year Sterling resident, mother of two and small business owner, Patricia Phillips believes she is in touch with the residents of the 33rd District.

"I really feel like I am the average voter," she said. "I voted every year, but I didn’t always know who my state senator was. I know there are very good citizens out there who many not have the General Assembly on their radar screens."

Ryan Rogge, who manages Phillips’ campaign, said Phillips sits right in the middle of the income levels in Loudoun County.

"She’s really got an ear to the ground in that sense," he said.

Phillips said it was through her activist work that she began to gain a passion for politics and the political process.

"I want to get people involved," she said. "I want them to know that they can make a difference."

AFTER RECEIVING her degree in nutrition from Drexel University in 1979, Phillips worked in schools food service, helping to create nutritional goals for schools lunch programs.

"My work in the nutrition program really spanned from federal regulations down to the state-level regulations to the local decision making," she said.

When trying to develop schools nutrition goals, Phillips said she learned that she does not believe in making things federal issues.

"My work started out federal and moved closer to home," she said. "I think government is best done closest to the people."

While working on the nutrition programs, Phillips said she was surprised to see how much impact advocacy groups had on legislators.

"I remember talking to a representative in a congressional office and trying to get them to see my client’s point of view," she said. "It wasn’t until someone from [an advocacy group] called them that they truly listened."

It was that meeting that changed Phillips’ understanding of grassroots campaigning.

"I realized how important grassroots campaigning is," she said. "What I was talking about had not changed, but it changed they’re perspective of what I was talking about."

PHILLIPS' INVOLVEMENT with advocacy groups began when a friend of hers told her about a women’s meeting in the area, as part of the nationwide group, Concerned Women for America. Concerned Women for America is the country’s largest public policy women's organization that works to bring Biblical principles to all levels of public policy.

In 1990, Phillips became involved with the Virginia chapter of the organization, eventually becoming state director, a volunteer position she held until her decision to run for the state senate.

For Phillips her favorite part of her work with Concerned Women for America was putting together citizen lobby days in Richmond.

"It was about getting citizens involved, having a voice," she said. "And it worked. When people spoke up, politicians listened."

One of the biggest pieces of legislation she worked on recently was the marriage amendment, which passed during the general election in November.

"Those are things we thought were very constructive," she said. "Working through it to the general election."

Rogge said her work on the marriage amendment and with Concerned Women for America made him excited to work with her.

"I saw all her work from Concerned Women’s and was really excited to get behind her. I knew what she stood for," he said. "She is very straightforward and honest. I knew what I was getting when I worked for her."

PHILLIPS STARTED her own consulting business in 1985, Phillips Resources. At the time, Phillips was working in downtown Washington, D.C., and the commute was beginning to take its toll.

"It’s interesting that the traffic and commuting were a part of my decision," she said.

After quitting her job, Phillips said consulting fell into her lap.

"I knew people in the nutrition field and I said, ‘Oh, I could help you with that problem,'" she said. "It just grew from there."

Owning a small business gave Phillips an insight into what other people were going through in their lives.

"I remember my first experience giving a woman a raise," she said. "I felt so bad when she saw so little of that extra money. It was upsetting."

In Phillips’ business she has had to deal with the tax laws of other states, which she said gives her a unique view of different ways to do things.

"There is a tremendous amount to be gained by seeing how other people do things," she said. "I am not one who thinks I know everything going in. It’s about looking at other ways and saying, ‘How can I apply that principle?’"

Rogge said Phillips involvement with so many different citizens groups and organizations is really going to help her down in Richmond.

"They are going to hold her accountable once she’s in office," he said. "Which I think is very important in an elected official."