Volume 8 Issue 1 Leadership Edition 2022 | Page 45

epresentative Geraldine Fortenberry Thompson is not merely a political candidate . A candidate is defined as someone seeking to be considered for a position or political office . However , Representative Thompson is so much more than that . Politics and community activism are in her DNA . A sit-down conversation with IBA Success Magazine allowed her to tell the whole story of who she is and why she is running for office . This interview turned into a story that would answer a few questions that her constituents would want to know : what makes her an ideal candidate ; her passion behind her campaign ; her vision as an elected official ; the challenges that she has overcome , and some of the issues she is passionate about .
YESTERDAY Representative Thompson has been a part of the political arena for decades . She started her career as the secretary to Representee Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry . In 1970 , Cherry was elected as a state representative , becoming the first Black woman to serve as a legislator for the State of Florida . While in the State House of Representatives , she introduced the Equal Rights Amendment , the Martin Luther King , Jr . state holiday , and other legislation . Representative Cherry was elected to four terms and served until 1979 . Even though she was from Miami , she received calls from all over the state because of her access .
As a member of her staff , her secretary , Geraldine , had a frontrow seat in the political arena of the state of Florida . Seeing the struggles that the political candidates , especially black candidates , had at that time , initially , Geraldine felt that politics was not for her . Fast forward 36 years later , she found herself as a Representative in the same arena . She realized that politics was not about money or power , but it was about the improvement of people ’ s lives . Your influence with a seat at the table is much more aggressive than sitting on the sidelines . She served as a Florida House of Representatives member from November 2006 until 2012 and was a member of the Florida Senate from 2012 until 2016 . She returned to the Florida House in 2018 . In the words of the younger generation , she is not NEW to this , but she is TRUE to this .
TODAY Running for public office is not for the faint of heart and should not be entered into lightly . Getting someone to believe in you enough to mark your name on a ballot is a delicate , difficult undertaking . Representative Thompson knows this , and she is willing to take on the tough challenges and address controversial issues , which differentiates her from the other contender and makes her the ideal candidate . An example is that in 2020 , people in the other candidate ’ s district and throughout Orange County wanted to recognize the sacrifice of prominent Ocoee resident July Perry , who was beaten , shot , and lynched , as a warning to other Black citizens who dared to vote .
The other candidate , who represents Ocoee , refused to work with her constituents on the road naming . Representative Thompson took on the task though the road was not in her district . Representative Thompson has worked for many years to ensure an accurate and authentic telling of history . She filed a bill that passed in the House to designate a portion of Silver Star Road as the Julius ‘ July ’ Perry Memorial Highway . This is just one of the many issues that Representative Thompson does not shy away from to serve and recognize her constituents and those in the Central Florida area .
TOMORROW Representative Thompson does not have any one motto that she lives by . However , there is one this interviewer observed ; a quote from Albert Einstein , “ Learn from Yesterday , Live for Today , Hope for Tomorrow ”. Politics is about addressing the controversial and challenging needs of the constituents . For example , affordable housing is one of her main challenges in the future . One way would be to limit the number of houses purchased in a particular neighborhood by outside equity firms . In addition , she would like to address the issue by protecting the Sadowski Fund , which was supposed to help with affordable housing . These are just a few of the many needs she sees as challenging in the current political climate .
Politics is for people who have a passion for changing lives . As this interview indicates , Representative Geraldine Fortenberry Thompson has been doing this in some aspect of her entire life . But , as this article relates , she did it YESTERDAY , she is doing it TODAY , and she will continue to do it TOMORROW . n
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