Jennifer Skidonenko: Running to prevent gun violence
Jennifer Skidonenko is running for District 106 for the Texas House of Representatives, located near Northeast Denton county in North Texas. Though this is her first campaign for public office, this isn’t Jennifer’s first time working within the political sphere. In 2018, following the shooting at Parkland High School, Jennifer founded the local chapter of Moms Demand Action in Denton County, an organization that advocates for gun violence prevention—especially in schools. Prior to this, Jennifer volunteered on local political campaigns like Beto O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate race. Now, Jennifer is taking the reigns into her own hands—leading the way in her own campaign for office.
Jennifer was raised in a “mildly conservative” home. While her opinions differed from her family’s, Jennifer remembers being encouraged by her family to speak up for herself and others. Specifically, Jennifer accredits her mother for giving Jennifer her tenacious spirit. Jennifer’s first role model was her mother who, as a single mother, raised Jennifer and her brother. When Jennifer’s brother fell ill with leukemia, Jennifer’s mom made sure to provide Jennifer as normal of a life as she could while providing for her brother. Once Jennifer’s brother recovered, Jennifer mom continued her banking career, climbing the corporate ladder while taking night classes. It was this drive that taught Jennifer was she considers to be an important lesson: work hard, do what needs to be done—but it's ok to collapse and cry when the work is done and no one is looking.
In junior high school, Jennifer remembers becoming politically vested at the start of the Gulf War. Her grandfather would watch the news, Jennifer looking over, and express his displeasure with the start of yet another war without a legitimate purpose, as she described it. It was this moment with her grandfather that sparked her interest in politics, drawing Jennifer’s attention to serve her community.
One of the issues facing Jennifer’s community is the prevalence of gun violence. In 2018, following the Parkland High School shooting, Jennifer sought solutions to this issue by founding the Denton County chapter of Moms Demand Action. Then, tragedy struck again. In the summer of 2019, the City of El Paso faced a mass shooting. As a gun owner herself, Jennifer was mortified. This shooting, combined with Jennifer’s outrage, sparked her interest in running for public office, saying “I actually saw myself running for office and being a representative.”
As a candidate, Jennifer hopes to support gun violence prevention measures so, as she says, “the wrong people don’t get access to guns.” Included in these measures are pushing for the passage of red flag laws and universal background checks. Jennifer also wants to work on expanding Medicaid funding. Specifically, Jennifer wants to mitigate the damaging debt that medical care can pose. Additionally, Jennifer wants to fine tune the public education budget to prevent the slashing of major programs.
Jennifer provided parting advice for young women interested in running for office one day. As a mother with an ever-changing schedule, Jennifer shares that her campaign has to be taken day by day. Most importantly, Jennifer says, “you have to remember to know your boundaries” and stick to them, which sometimes means saying no. She says, “you have to prioritize what is best for your district and what is best for your campaign.” Aside from her fluid schedule making, Jennifer also presses the importance of creating a strong support system. As a mother, Jennifer relies heavily on her husband for assisting in day-to-day duties. As a candidate, Jennifer relies on fellow women candidates and officials who have created a private “support” group.
To learn more about Jennifer’s campaign, visit her website here:www.skidonenkofortx.com