Attorney / Senator,
Fitzsimmons Law / W.Va. Senate
It's often difficult for young West Virginians to get involved in the legislative process under the Capitol dome.
Lucky for Rocky Fitzsimmons, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin noticed his commitment to the Ohio County Democratic Party and appointed him to fill a vacancy in the West Virginia Senate earlier this year. Despite Fitzsimmons' involvement in politics, the shift from support role to legislator was jolting.
"I think being appointed to the Senate was a great honor," he said. "It wasn't something I could do alone. It was a lot of hard work and effort. In addition, obviously, people recognize that hard work. I think that was a tremendous accomplishment. Starting from the governor down, a lot of people placed their trust in me."
When he's not at the Capitol, Fitzsimmons operates a law office with his dad, brother and two others. The family also owns two radio stations in the Wheeling area, and Fitzsimmons hosts a weekly talk show on state and local politics. He also currently serves as chairman of the Ohio County Democratic Party.
The persistence that is required of both lawyers and politicians was something Fitzsimmons learned at an early age. The law office is located in an old, renovated firehouse, but the fire pole had been removed. Fitzsimmons' father found one at an old firehouse in Tennessee and he moved it to his offices in Wheeling. But the pole was tarnished, Fitzsimmons said.
"When they brought it in it was tarnished, black from head to toe," he said. "They put me in the basement and I had to shine that pole from top to bottom. It was hard work, but I was persistent at it. I've done every job here from the bottom to the top. That's the way to learn a business and get good at it."
Fitzsimmons also worked a summer for the public defender's office in Wheeling. He said through that job, he saw that some people in his community were facing tough situations.
"That was an eye-opening experience as well," he said.
Fitzsimmons is a life-long member of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Wheeling, where he served as an altar boy. He also was educated in Catholic schools.