When Juli Briskman saw the president’s motorcade drive by two years ago while she was riding her bike, she was furious.
“At that moment, I had lost all hope,” Briskman told NBC News on Wednesday, the day after winning election to the Loudon County Board of Supervisors in Virginia. “Things were going from bad to worse.”
So she flipped off presidential caravan. Her anger was captured by a photographer and the image went viral, costing her a job with a government contractor. But it also got her a new one, as an elected official.
“I came to a realization that I can’t run against (President Donald Trump), but I can make change at the local level,” she said. “Every state matters, every vote counts. I put my head down and went to work.”
So Briskman leaned in — to politics and fighting the Trump agenda at home. She signed up to be a poll worker in 2017 the day after she was fired, volunteered for Democrat Rep. Jennifer Wexton’s 2018 campaign, and went on to launch a campaign of her own.
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Briskman’s district includes part of the Trump National Golf Club, a small point of pride for her.
While her newfound prominence undoubtedly boosted fundraising and got her name in the papers — she raised more than $150,000 in her run for office — it wasn’t always helpful.
“People made assumptions that that’s all I was,” she said. “Some people said she’s just crass, there’s nothing to her, she’s a loud mouth, she’s not going to be able to work with the other side.”
But Briskman said she was committed to proving voters wrong, focusing on the issues important to her — like public school funding, teacher pay and housing. Her campaign knocked on 15,000 doors.
“It takes a lot of stamina to run for office,” said Briskman, a marathoner and ultramarathoner.
Asked if she has any regrets about starting her political career with a middle finger, Briskman said no.
“I feel the same as I did in 2017, if not stronger, about what’s going on in our country,” she said.
Well, maybe she rues one small thing.
“Maybe a tiny, tiny regret that the nation seems to know me from a picture of my backside,” she joked. “But not really.”