My venture into legislative politics began last session when I participated in Colorado State University’s Capitol internship program.
At the time, I was working on obtaining my political science degree with a minor in business administration. I was assigned to the office of Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who represents an area very close to my hometown.
Twice a week I arrived at the Capitol to complete tasks of constituent communication and bill tracking. Having previously worked on the campaign side of politics, this internship provided valuable insight into what happens after November.
The issues our office dealt with were familiar to a suburban kid like me. Frankly, I thought what was important to me and my area was what was important to all Coloradans. Until I worked with Rep. J. Paul Brown and learned more about rural issues – and especially those concerning the 59th District – I didn’t know how isolated my political knowledge was.
As the first half of the 68th General Assembly came to a close, I was offered a position to manage office operations for two representatives, DelGrosso and Brown.
I started work with Brown a couple of weeks before Christmas. My time was spent researching a variety of issues, and with all the legislative services at the disposal of Capitol staff members, I was able to prepare the reports he needed. It was an eye-opening experience to see the depth of each issue and the bureaucracy intertwined.
The second half of the session began Jan. 11. By that date, many of Brown’s bills were either drafted or well along in the drafting stages. It was my responsibility to stay in touch with our legislative council to ensure the bill accomplished its intended goal.
Brown, Karen Nelson (another office aide much wiser than me), and I would discuss his proposed legislation. Brown did a fantastic job explaining the intentions behind his bills and how they would benefit his constituency and Colorado as a whole. His wisdom and clear instruction were invaluable to the informative and educational experience I was blessed to be a part of.
My mornings would consist of constituent correspondence, checking and responding to emails, voice mails and written letters. As the legislative session continued, duties grew into meeting with lobbyists, providing or digging for information, scheduling appointments, preparing research reports and amendments (through legislative council of course), and keeping Brown’s followers updated on Twitter and Facebook.
I learned more than I could have ever imagined working under Brown’s leadership. He is a rancher and businessman who has his priorities in line. Brown is a family man, hard-working cowboy and an honest representative. It was truly an honor to work for such a wonderful boss.
Caleb Bonham is a Fort Collins native, graduate of Colorado State University and legislative aide to Rep. J. Paul Brown.