In the years before passage of the Child Victims Act in New York state, Bridie Farrell was a common sight in the halls of the state capitol in Albany.

Farrell was a member of the U.S. National Speed Skating between 1998 and 2014, with three American records under her belt — in spite of being abused for years by her much older coach.

Farrell frequently told the story of her abuse to members of the media as well as lawmakers, and has been called integral to passage of the CVA in 2019.  

Since then, she founded a nonprofit organization, America Loves Kids, that supports survivors of abuse. 

But Farrell is taking a sharp turn away from the nonprofit and toward electoral politics. She announced on Wednesday that she is running for Congress in the 21st District against incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. 

“Listen, I think that we need someone who is going to go to Washington and remember us. Elise hasn’t, right? We need someone who is going to work on the issues that are important to us. Elise hasn’t done that and I will,” Farrell told Capital Tonight.

Stefanik will be a tough opponent to unseat. She has both name recognition and a national profile. Plus, she has the benefit of heavy Republican voter enrollment.  

As of February, 2021, the 21st Congressional District had 182,078 registered Republicans and 131,300 registered Democrats.  There are also over 7,000 registered members of the Conservative Party who tend to vote Republican. Then there are 102,841 voters who are unaffiliated.

But Farrell said she is undaunted; she argues that Stefanik is playing into the nation’s divisive political rhetoric, and that her extreme partisanship isn’t helping the district.

“Is it going to be hard? Yeah, it’s going to be hard, but I’m used to hard challenges and fighting for other people, and that’s why I’m getting into this,” Farrell explained.

The past few contests between Stefanik and challenger Tedra Cobb have been heated. Stefanik has already gone on the offense against Farrell on Twitter.

According to Farrell, since her announcement, she’s received many calls and emails, and may see some help from the national Democrats.

“But what’s been so important to me, is the amount of people from high school, from elementary school…who have emailed me and said ‘thank you, thank you for doing this.'"  

Farrell said the issues she’ll be fighting for include access to health care, good public schools on the K-12 and college level and universal broadband.

“It’s 2021 and some people still don’t have this access. We need someone who is going to fight for the people of the district,” Farrell said.