I’m guessing that since you’ve taken the time to visit my website and to navigate specifically to the page titled: “Who is Krystal Ball?” that you probably have a number of questions that you’d like answered. In particular, you must be wondering what leads a 27 year old wife and Mommy to run for Congress. I think to understand that you have to know where I come from, the values I was raised with and what inspired me to take action.
My parents were both brought up in families where livelihoods were earned by teaching, farming, sweating or some combination of the three. Mom was the daughter of a postal worker and a union sheet metal worker. Dad was the son of a teacher and a coal miner. Neither came from families that could afford college tuition or had a tradition of higher education but both found a way to go to college through a combination of their own determination and opportunities provided to them by their fellow citizens. Mom went to school with help from the Catholic Church and decided she would become a teacher. She ended up earning an MA in Education from Virginia Tech and becoming a teacher, assistant principal, and the chairwoman of the King George County school board. Dad went to school with help from the state of West Virginia. He majored in physics and became so fascinated by the subject that he went on to earn a PhD and worked for 32 years as a physicist at the Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center in King George. After retiring from Dahlgren, he would teach calculus and physics at Rappahannock Community College and the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School in Caroline County.
As with all people, I was shaped greatly by my parents. From summers spray-painting “Rose Marie Ball for School Board” signs, I learned the importance of community service. From my Dad’s careful and patient explanations of physics principles, I learned a love for science and the power of rational thought. From watching Dad’s target practice in the backyard and his meticulous handling of his firearms, I learned the values and responsibilities of gun ownership. From countless weekend swim meets endured by my Mom where she would rejoice when I performed well and console me when disappointed, I learned how to be a good Mommy. From biking, canoeing, and hiking with my Dad, I learned the beauty of and spirituality found in nature. From both of my bootstrapping parents, I learned the value of hard work and the critical role our government can play in allowing all citizens, regardless of birth or connections, to persevere in their pursuit of happiness.
King George Girl
I was born and raised in rural King George County where we lived on 5 acres with a huge garden, fruit trees, goats, ducks, rabbits and anything else that my sisters and I could either catch or convince my parents we couldn’t live without. I can’t help but feel that I was greatly influenced by King George itself. King George is rural and small and remarkably egalitarian. By and large, everyone’s parents either worked at Dahlgren or farmed and so it didn’t occur to us to ask anyone what their Dad did or to classify people in that way. I graduated with a lot of the same people that I met at Mrs. Kline’s pre-school and so I learned early the critical role community plays in the quality and vibrancy of people’s lives. My friends and I would look forward to weekends spent swimming at the local lake and camping trips at Westmoreland State Park. It was a warm, happy, and innocent place to be a child and a fledgling adult.
It’s impossible to give an accurate picture of my upbringing without also talking about swimming. I joined a summer swim team when I was 6 and found right away that I loved the competition. I vividly remember my first swim meet. My Mom, trying to temper the high expectations I had for my performance, told me: “This is your first meet Krystal and you’re only six, it will take some time before you start winning ribbons like your big sisters.” I listened to her but I didn’t take the message to heart. After frantically whirling my arms through the water for all I was worth from one end of the pool to the other, I pulled myself out of the water and was handed…a ribbon! I had won my heat. I was hooked. Anyone who’s been a swimmer knows that it can be excruciatingly boring, physically tortuous, crushingly heartbreaking, and occasionally, inconceivably exhilarating. Swimming gave me discipline and tenacity and made me self-reliant. I learned to deal with success and failure and how to embrace at the end of a race the person who had bested you or who you had bested. Meeting swimmers from other teams and traveling on weekends to every corner of Virginia for swim meets, I learned the quirks, diversity and beauty of the state. I also learned when I was awarded an NCAA Division I scholarship, how hard work and sacrifice can pay off.
In school at the University of Virginia, I gained consciousness of the world outside of King George and found in my interest in economics an expression of the scientific curiosity instilled by my father. It was a great time for me. I loved being around so many smart, ambitious and competitive people and found out that I could compete academically as well as I could in the pool. My post-college work experiences ranged from software design and implementation for the US Federal Courts to evaluating Indian start-ups in education. Working together with my husband, we traveled extensively to places like South Korea, Dubai, India, Jordan, and Syria. Rather than highlight differences, these travels impressed upon me the basic decency and sameness of people in every corner of the world.
The single most important and influential event in my life thus far however was the birth of my daughter Ella in March of 2008. I had no way of knowing what amazement, joy, and wonder she would bring to the lives of my husband and me. I remember in her first days home just holding her and crying because she was so beautiful and so wondrous and because I knew even then that I couldn’t hold her close and protect her forever. As I shopped for the healthiest baby food and safest car seat, I realized that I had no control over the decisions which would affect her life most. What kind of a school would she go to? Will she be able to go to good doctors, nurses, and hospitals? Will she be able to enjoy the rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests that I enjoyed as a kid? Will the country I love be a safe and prosperous place, a place that lives up to the ideals of its people? The answer to all of these questions and many more seemed so uncertain.
I decided I had to take action. Though a part of me wanted nothing more than to stay with my baby every moment I possibly could, I realized that I could do so much more for her by getting involved in the decisions that will so greatly impact her life and the lives of her children. Together with my husband, I researched what I could do which would be the most impactful. We found that there was a real possibility of representing my home district in Congress, the place where I had swam and studied and run with my goats in the woods, the First District of Virginia. As I looked over the relevant facts, the decision to run for Congress felt less like a choice and more like a calling.
So here I am, putting everything I have into this race and asking you to support me. I believe that I can represent you well. I believe that I have the compassion, vision, and drive to make America’s First District the nation’s leader in ideas and action. I gain compassion from my roots in the First District, from witnessing the success of my parents achieved with the help of their fellow citizens, from knowing the concerns felt by a parent for their child. I gain vision from being part of a generation not hindered by a Cold War mentality, from seeing the World through the eyes of an entrepreneur, from a firm belief that by relentlessly fixing our goals and asking “What works?” we can change the world. I am driven by my love for my daughter, my community, my country, and my planet. No one on Capitol Hill will work harder than me or more passionately than me.
Thomas Jefferson once said: “That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.” When our founding fathers first dreamed of this nation they did not imagine a Congress filled with career politicians, marching their way up the seniority ladder. They imagined citizen servants taking time from their lives to devote to their fellow citizens in the service of their country. I believe in that tradition and I pledge to make you feel a part of our government.