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Learning politics as a Legislative Aide

My name is Caleb Bonham. I am a Fort Collins native, graduate of Colorado State University and Legislative Aide to Representative J. Paul Brown.

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 Representative Brian DelGrosso (HD 51), a legislator who represents an area very close to my home town. Twice weekly, 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 myself. Frankly, I thought what was important to me and my area was what was important to all Coloradoans. Until I worked with Representative 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 Sixty-eighth General Assembly came to a close, I was offered a position managing office operations for two representatives, Brian DelGrosso and J. Paul Brown.

I started work with Rep. J. Paul Brown a couple weeks before Christmas. My time was spent researching a variety of issues, and with all the legislative services at the disposal of Capitol staff, I was able to prepare the reports Rep. Brown needed. It was an eye opening experience to see the depth of each issue and the bureaucracy intertwined.

The second half of the Sixty-eighth General Assembly began January 11. By that date, many of Rep. 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.

Rep. Brown, Karen Nelson (another office aide, much wiser than I) and I would discuss his proposed legislation. Rep. 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, my duties transitioned into meeting with lobbyists, providing or digging for information, scheduling appointments, preparing research reports and amendments (through legislative council, of course), and keeping Rep. Brown’s followers updated on Twitter and Facebook.

I learned more than I could have ever imagined working under the leadership of Rep. J. Paul Brown. He is a simple rancher and businessman who has his priorities in line. Rep. Brown is a family man, hard working cowboy and an honest representative. It was truly an honor to work for such a wonderful boss!

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