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Election 2014: Bridget Ziegler: Sarasota School Board, District 1

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 8, 2014
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As a new mother and a candidate for the Sarasota County School Board, Bridget Ziegler already had a lot on her plate when she got a phone call from Gov. Rick Scott this June.

Ziegler had already been through the ringer of applying to fill a vacancy on the School Board, going through a vetting process and an intense interview with the governor. Following her 20-minute meeting with Scott, she had no sense what direction he was leaning in — until she took the call and heard him say, “Congratulations.”

“It was just quiet for a little bit,” Ziegler said. “I just kind of took it in for a second and thought, ‘Whoa — all right.’”

That moment of zen was an outlier for Ziegler, who from that moment, has added school board member to her litany of titles. Ziegler, who is also an insurance agent at Al Purmort Insurance, was always interested in taking an active role in the community.

Ziegler, who will face off against Ken Marsh in the Nov. 4 runoff for the District 1 school board seat, rattles off a laundry list of organizations and programs with which she’s been involved: Children First, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program, the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, to name a few.

When she first arrived in Sarasota in 2010, getting involved in those organizations was initially a way for Ziegler to ingratiate herself into a new community. Eventually, however, she discovered people’s dedication to various causes was particularly strong — and that dedication was contagious.

“I think the community is so different here than anywhere else I lived,” Ziegler said. “People here are really passionate about the community and giving back.”

Still, she says she didn’t imagine herself taking on a position as intensive as school board member this soon. A major contributing factor to the accelerated decision to pursue the school board opening was the birth of her now 1-year-old daughter, Reagan.

“As a mother of a young child, something changes in you,” Ziegler said. “I’ve got skin in the game now.”

Even in the middle of her hectic schedule — a typical day begins at 5 a.m. and can run as late as 2 a.m., although she stresses that she’s not usually functioning on three hours of sleep — she is focused above all else on ensuring that Reagan is getting enough of her attention. Still, she’s fighting hard to secure a place on the school board, and she hopes her work ethic can serve as an inspiration to her young daughter.

She credits her husband, Christian, and her parents, who also live in Sarasota, with helping her balance her various responsibilities. Christian Ziegler is a state committeeman, making politics a family matter, but Ziegler said her husband wasn’t exactly pushing his wife to throw her hat into that same arena.

“Having been in politics, he really dove in and was adamant about making sure I knew what it entailed and whether I really wanted to put myself out there,” Ziegler said.

Still, once the decision was made, she says his support has been crucial over the course of the campaign.

Ziegler came in second to Marsh in the August primary, garnering nearly 2,000 fewer votes than her opponent. As she gears up for the final stretch of the campaign, she’s earned the endorsement of the other two primary election candidates and is working to overcome that gap.

Ziegler has a lot to handle — but if it weren’t the school board, she said, it’d be something else.

“I thrive on being busy,” Ziegler said. “I think the busier you are, the more efficient and effective you are. There’s no room for error.”

The best piece of advice I ever got was: Looking at everything from a positive side is something I live my life by. I will make sure my daughter does the same. You see people who overcome insane obstacles because they have a positive outlook.

My favorite thing about my profession is: Being able to talk to the variety of people in the community. We have some incredible resources in this county that we should be really proud of. People are so willing to help. I love hearing the stories from students, teachers, parents and community members.

The best ideas come to me when: I’m getting ready in the morning.

The story of my life would be called: “The Unexpected Road.”

I’m inspired by: My parents, for a variety of reasons. My mom is probably the most genuinely honest, nice person you’ll ever meet. They are both are so incredibly hardworking.

Age: 32

Family: Husband, Christian; daughter, Reagan

Education: Attended Florida International University, studied business marketing

Hobbies: Cooking, playing piano, running and spending time with family

Previous experience: School Board member; commercial insurance agent

Organizations involved in: Children First, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Goodwill-Manasota, the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange



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