By Diane Herbst
Updated September 26, 2003 01:00 PM

Kelly Ripa has her hands full as a TV host, sitcom star, mother and wife, but she recently made time for two more roles: political booster and proud daughter. She and husband Mark Consuelos recently attended an $850-a-plate Democratic fund-raiser at the exclusive Tavistock Country Club for her father, Joe Ripa, a former transit union president and Democrat running for Camden County, N.J., freeholder. Ripa’s family is from Berlin Borough, part of Camden County.

Ripa, 32, took time out from stumping to speak with PEOPLE about her own full plate – which includes Live with Regis and Kelly, her new ABC sitcom Hope & Faith, (which premieres Sept. 26 and costars Faith Ford) and tending to three children, Michael, 6, Lola Grace, 2, and Joaquin, 7 months.

Any new stuff going on with Regis?
Yeah, he’s gonna do a new role on (Hope & Faith).

What will he play?
I can tell you but then I’d have to burn your tape recorder.

So, how is the new show?
Everything’s so good, we’re having the best time.

Is it tough to juggle motherhood, marriage and two TV shows?
Both of my shows are great. They’re really not a lot of work. I get to bring my kids to work with me, it’s not so hard, and my oldest boy is in school all day. It probably looks complicated because I’m not a very organized person and I make everything look difficult.

What are the hours like?
My hours are very good. I get to Live with Regis and Kelly at 7:30 and get out of there at 10, and I’m at the other show at 11:30 and am done by 4 at the latest. I’m home before dinner time every night.

Is it energizing having a new show to work on?
It’s so much fun. I love Faith Ford, she’s a great actress and just a lot of fun. If you can make a living making people laugh, what else can you ask for? There’s no greater job.

Any funny stories from the set? The funniest thing was the day the lights went out and we all had to walk home. I had just convinced everyone on that cast that moving to New York would be the greatest experience of their lives, and the next day they’re schlepping across the Williamsburg Bridge and walking about 17 miles to get home. That was funny – not for them but for me. They kept kidding me, “Thank you Kelly, this is great, you were right.”

Have you always been a Democrat or supported Democrats?
I support my dad, (but) I never really think it’s a good idea for people in entertainment to talk about politics. I don’t think people in entertainment’s opinions on politics are any more important than anyone else’s, so I stay out of that whole arena. Not even PEOPLE magazine can trick me into saying otherwise. But I support my Dad, he’s a great man, a great role model for me growing up, and he’s done a lot for Camden County, I’ve seen his devotion to this county up close, so I know he would be a really great freeholder.

Do you know what a freeholder is?
No. No, just kidding. Being a New York voter, we don’t have that office, and freeholder is not something to easily define.

I, of course, know the office my dad is running for and I know what it entails with the parks department, the department of health – I understand that. As a matter of fact, someone read me the definition and it doesn’t really connect to the job.