An unprecedented number of women are chasing political office in the 2018 midterm elections. This month, we're profiling several worthy candidates who are seeking to effect change.

By Jennifer Ferrise
Updated Oct 24, 2018 @ 10:38 am
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By definition, Kyrsten Sinema’s historic run to be Arizona’s first-ever female senator is pretty badass. But when you ask Sinema what her most badass moment has been to date, her answer doesn’t involve life-changing legislation or a powerful moment on the campaign trail. In fact, it’s pretty far removed from the political sphere altogether.

“My most badass moment was five years ago when I completed my first Ironman triathlon,” Sinema tells InStyle. “It took a lot of hard work and determination, and I was so proud to cross that finish line. Ironman’s motto is ‘Anything is possible’ and that’s exactly how I try to live my life every day.”

That motto certainly holds true for Sinema and her rise in the political world. Growing up, her family often struggled to make ends meet, which has shaped her perspective on many public service issues to this day. “We went through some tough times, and we were even homeless for a while,” recalls Sinema. “But we got by thanks to help from family, church, and a lot of hard work. My childhood taught me the power of working hard, and the importance of helping others. I carry these values with me now in everything that I do.”

Sinema soon realized that education could become her key to opportunity and bettering her life. “I was able to go to college on Pell Grants and academic scholarships, and then I became a social worker in Arizona schools,” she says. For nearly a decade after that, Sinema worked alongside students and families who were going through similar struggles that her own family had faced. “I wanted to help more families in Arizona get ahead, and that commitment led me to public service.”

Sinema’s run against Republican Martha McSally is a closely watched race right now, not only because they’re running to replace Senator Jeff Flake’s seat, but also because of the history-making element of the race.

“I don’t think much about being the first [female in the seat],” says Sinema. “What I do think about is the kind of Senator I want to be. I want to be a Senator that all Arizonans can count on to put partisanship aside and solve their problems.”

But still, she agrees that it’s important for more women all over the country to rightfully claim their seat at the political table. “Now more than ever, people want elected officials who are willing to work together to solve problems, not politicians who play partisan games at the expense of everyday Americans,” she says. “The good news is that all across the country women are stepping up, running for office, and getting involved. We’re rolling up our sleeves and we’re getting to work to solve real problems. That’s the kind of leadership our country needs.”

Read on for more from Kyrsten Sinema.

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Why she’s running:

“I got my shot at the American Dream, and now I’m running for Senate to make sure every Arizonan gets her shot, too,” says Sinema. “Arizonans who want to go to college or learn a trade should be able to get a student loan to do so without falling into crippling debt. I’m a professor at Arizona State University, and I often hear from my students who are struggling with debt.” Sinema has also turned her attention to health care. “We need to ensure access to affordable health care for everyone,” she says. “We need good-paying jobs and better education. It’s these bread-and-butter issues that I’m hearing about from Arizona families across our state. Washington is chaotic and dysfunctional, but I’m focused on solving real problems and getting things done for my state and my country."

Most pressing issue:

Sinema says that health care is the issue that people speak to her about most. “I hear more about the rising cost of health care than anything else,” she says. “Costs are too high and the benefits aren’t good enough. We need to fix what’s broken in our system and fight for what is working, like protection for millions of Americans with a pre-existing condition.”

Crossing the aisle:

“I’m really proud of my ability to work with literally anyone to solve problems and get things done,” says Sinema. “One of the first things I did when I got to Congress was to make friends with people on both sides of the aisle. I actually started teaching a bipartisan spin class and invited Republicans and Democrats to join. The class is a lot of fun, and it also makes us better at our jobs. We might not agree all the time, but talking to each other and spending time together reminds us that we can find common ground and work together to solve important problems.”

Political inspiration:

“Serving alongside Senator John McCain was the greatest honor of my life,” says Sinema. “He was someone who stood up and spoke the truth, and just let the chips fall where they may. Senator McCain’s legacy of integrity, character, and putting service to country over self is a great source of inspiration and hope for me.”

For more stories like this, pick up the November issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download now.