I’ve always liked writing and politics, and while neither was my so-called career, I feel like I’ve come full circle with both. Other than free-lance writing as a book and restaurant reviewer when I was a teenager, one of my first real jobs was a campaign worker for former Republican 6th District Congressman Larry J. Hopkins. I was 20-something in the early 80s and had no idea what each party stood for. I enjoyed working for Hopkins and seeing how people respected him. When he won, he offered me a job writing constituent letters. I loved that job. I got to thank veterans and congratulate centenarians. Soon after his election, the job moved to D.C., but I was not willing to leave Lexington. I think it was my typing skills and passing those ‘square pegs in round holes tests’ that got me in the door at IBM, but working for Hopkins gave me the confidence I needed to keep asking for writing jobs. Other professionals helped me along the way, but not many actually took a chance on me. Later, an IBM manager took a chance by supporting me in a management position, where I was the only female on the team. That same manager, Rich Harr, supported my decision to leave management a few years later and take a writing job within IBM. It only lasted a few years, but it was my favorite job in 38 years at IBM.
The most recent work that I felt committed to was working for Democrat Amy McGrath’s campaign when she ran for the 6th District Congressional seat, the same one held by Hopkins decades ago. It was an honor to campaign for her and I wrote letters and articles supporting her positions on key issues, including a piece about attending the Veterans for Barr Rally, which earned me ‘being trolled’ status.
So, from writing for Republican Hopkins to writing about Democrat McGrath nearly 40 years later. I’m not sure what the meaning is, other than it has made me reflect on people who took a chance and helped me along the way.
I encourage you to think about how your path might have been different, if not for someone who took a chance on you. Whether it be a relative, teacher, peer, manager or Congress (man or woman), send them a letter letting them know they made a difference.
Somewhere along the way I wrote a letter to Hopkins thanking him for the job, and for suggesting I switch from Independent to Democrat. Over the holidays, I visited him and he says he still has that letter after all these years. Larry was a Republican back when the GOP was much more moderate, before the tea party. He was elected between two democratic congressmen (Breckinridge and Baesler). Unlike our current Congressman, who only represents a tiny faction of his far-right party, Hopkins represented all of his constituents. Google the bills he sponsored and compare them to Barr’s. The difference is stark.
Talking to Hopkins reinforced my perspective that the GOP was not always the way it is today. Maybe he is the reason some of the older republicans still cling to their party, at least I hope so because it is a better reason than the alternative. Hopkins is nothing like the GOP of today, and wants nothing to do with politics anymore. I’ll leave it at that.
Sarah Moore Katzenmaier, Lexington native, works as a consultant for IBM, and is a photographer in her spare time. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org