The LegisLadies Also Serve
The ‘LegisLadies’ are the public stand-ins for busy lawmakers.
Margie Anne Clark [Signal Staff Writer]
“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of people to change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Meade
Connecting with their constituency, while making a difference in their communities is more than just a full time job for The LegisLadies. As representatives of state dignitaries and their districts, the LegisLadies are in the business of making it their business to keep the public informed and update on issues effecting the lives of people in the Santa Clarita Valley.
With a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic, the LegisLadies reach out to the community with a hands-on approach to government representation. Each in their own way, have drawn upon a lifetime of experience and a love of country to pursue their passion for public service.
Serving as the representative for Senator Wm. J. “Pete” Knight R-Palmdale is Patty Kelly.
Millie Jones serves as the senior deputy for Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Linda Lambourne serves as the field representative and special projects coordinator for U. S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon R-Santa Clarita.
Jones said the title of LegisLadies came about in September 2001 when several of the representatives decided to Walk for Diabetes and put together a team.
“We were told to choose a team name, and it was Linda Lambourne who came up with this idea,” Jones said.
LegisLady Debbie Schultze is the District Representative for State Assemblyman Dr. Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills. Michelle Luse is currently serving as the district representative for State Senator Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks.
Jackie Bick recently completed six years of service as the field representative to former state Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster, who termed out of office in December. As of Feb. 1, Bick will assume the duties as office manager and assistant to Kelly in the office of Senator Knight.
Bick said that while she’ll miss her work with Runner, she looks forward to working with Kelly and Knight.
“I absolutely loved my job working with George and I loved it so much that now I’m ready to go to work for Pete,” said Bick who will assume her new duties in Knight’s Antelope Valley office on Feb. 1. With a solid mid-western upbringing, Bick has been active volunteer in all of the communities in which she has lived for most of her life.
Prior to working for Runner, Bick served as a volunteer for Congressman McKeon’s election campaign. She later supported Runner while he was running for office and was hired as his office manager shortly after he was elected.
“I was thrilled to get the job,” said Bick, adding “It was time for me to get back into the work force as both of my daughters were out of college.”
Life in the political arena began to take root when Bick, as a young mother, began to volunteer on numerous political campaigns around the country. Bick and her family were always on the move due to the nature of her husband’s job in the electronics field in support of the military.
Bick grew up with a desire to server the community. While raising her two daughters, Bick worked on campaigns for 20 years as a precinct worker, stuffing envelopes and answering phones. Bick said volunteering fulfilled a her desire to serve her community while at the same time affording her the luxury of having her kids by her side as she worked. At the same time, Bick played an active role in her children’s education by volunteering her time at the schools, while serving on the PTA.
Prior to starting a family, Bick majored in Home Economics at Purdue University. Upon graduating, Bick immediately landed a job with the government working for the USDA department of agriculture in the University system n the state of Indiana. Urban planning as well as statistics were an integral part of her studies. Her background has served Bick well in her work with Runner. Bick said much of her job involves case work, as well as addressing simple to complicated issues.
“I’m really a fan of home economics and I don’t consider it to be a frill,” Bick said, though later joking that her youngest daughter never quite mastered the art of sewing a button on a shirt, but said Bick, “she turned out to be a great pastry chef.” For now, Bick is looking forward to getting back to work.
“It’s a fantastic job and its been a real education. I’ve learned so much” Bick said, adding that she believes in the importance of making government accessible to every citizen.
Kelly applied for her job with Knight’s office at the prompting of her husband R.J.. Kelly, whom she was dating at the time. Kelly, who became a widow when her first husband Jimmy Bryant, a country music guitar and fiddle player, died of lung cancer in 1980, grew up in California. While married to Jimmy, Kelly audited some music business classes to learn the business of music publishing and copyright. She also ran his fan club and wrote his club newsletter, as well as press releases. Kelly ran her first husband’s small music publishing company. Kelly has one grown daughter from the marriage and two grandchildren.
Kelly graduated from Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1983 with a Bachelor of Business Administration with Music Business Concentration degree. She later graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law and was admitted to practice law in Tennessee in 1989. She worked for the Office of Legal Services in the Tennessee State where she serves as a sessions attorney.
“As a session attorney, I drafted legislation for our part-time legislature, wrote memorandums to legislators and sat as assistant counsel on several committees. Several bills I drafted were passed into law. That was very exciting for me,” But the recession and hiring freeze in Tennessee prompted Kelly to head out west where she later met Kelly through mutual friends.
“We hit it off and got married in 1997. It is the second marriage for both of us. We had a western wedding. My dad walked me down the aisle with a shotgun,” Kelly said, adding that the video-taped antics ended up on America’s Funniest Videos and is still shown in re-runs. R.J. Kelly told Kelly she should apply for the vacancy left by Cameron Smyth following his election to City Council. Smyth recently assumed the duties of Mayor of Santa Clarita in December.
“R. J. knew that Cameron Smyth had been elected to the City Council, and that his position in Santa Clarita with Senator Knight was vacant,” Kelly said. “R.J. suggested to me that I apply for the job, since I had a legislative background. He and I also knew Linda Johnson with Assemblymember George Runner and Linda Lambourne with Congressman McKeon. We liked both of them, and they always seemed to like their job and were having fun,” she said.
From 1990 through 2000, Kelly worked at a law firm in the San Fernando Valley representing injured workers with workers’ compensation injuries.
“I maintained a hefty caseload. The job was very demanding and required a lot of hours each week.” Kelly said. When Kelly asked McKeon and Lambourne for their advise, she received a positive response.
“This was very different from the job I had. I asked them about applying for the job with Sen. Knight, and they though it was a good idea and encouraged me to apply,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s job at the Santa Clarita district office involves handling all of the constituent problems for Acton, Aqua Dulce, Santa Clarita and Frazier Park.
“I do the casework research and try to facilitate a proper response from the appropriate state agency for the constituent,” Kelly said.
Kelly attends numerous monthly meetings to present updates on current legislation. She also attends meetings to monitor issues of local interest with potential state involvement.
“I represent the Senator when he is not available at local events. I am the Senator’s eyes and ears in the community when he is unable to be here. I also read the local papers and fax pertinent articles of interest to our office in Sacramento,” Kelly said.
Not a typical nine to five job, Kelly attends many evening functions. Her daily tasks include running her satellite office in Santa Clarita. She works out of her Palmdale District Office about once per week,” said Kelly.
“This is a wonderful community to be a part of,” Kelly said, adding that she enjoys working with her constituency and looked forward to working with Knight for the next two years through the remainder of his term.
“I am proud to work for Senator Knight, whom I admire as a person who speaks his mind and stands by his word and convictions. I don’t think there has been a time in my life that I have enjoyed more than now,” Kelly said.
Jones is equally enthusiastic about her job as senior deputy for Antonovich.
“I love my job. I work for an outstanding leader in a beautiful community with caring individuals who want the very best for Santa Clarita Valley,” Jones said.
Jones said her job involves helping the Supervisor cover the needs of a district which covers 2,843 square miles.
“With the help of his staff in five field offices and the downtown office, he manages to cover his territory and serve the needs of approximately 2 million constituents,” Jones said adding that her job as an appointed official is an extension of her bosses work.
“As an appointed staff member for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, I view my role as supporting the supervisor in any way that I can, and always promoting his viewpoints,” Jones said. “Supervisor Antonovich has the kind of public record and philosophy that I am very comfortable to embrace and can easily give my whole-hearted backing.”
An average day in the life of Jones will find this busy LegisLady in the downtown Los Angeles office one or two days for meetings with county department staff, while later in the day she’ll be donning a hard hat, touring a proposed project site or helping to plan for groundbreakings or dedications of new facilities.
“In the job of a field deputy, you need to be a generalist, possessing knowledge about many subjects and being a ready source of information to find answers to constituents’ problems and requests,” Jones said.
Recent events include attending the Deputy David March Park groundbreaking in November as well as the ground breaking of Fire Station 126 on Citrus set to open late this year. She recently met with senior citizens in Agua Dulce about extending special transit service to their area. Jones also helped to dedicate a cat solarium at the Castaic Animal Shelter.
“My pet cat Cody and I are living proof that Supervisor Antonovich’ Pet Adoption Program really works,” Jones said of the tabby she adopted a year ago in November at an animal shelter appreciation week event in Castaic.
Jones said her early background as the owner of a woman-owned temporary help business in Northern Virginia from 1975 to 1979 gave her considerable insight into hiring, counseling and placing people in the workforce.
“I would a don hard-hat at construction sites to check on my temporary employees and get payroll out every Saturday morning so employees did not have to wait for their checks,” Jones said. “There’s something to be said about having the opportunity during your life to sign the front, as well as the back of paychecks. It gives one a great appreciation of our free enterprise system.”
It was during that time in Jones life that she became involved in Republican politics in Virginia and had the opportunity of working for three years for a state legislator in the commonwealth of Virginia.
“That led to my next job as Legislative Liaison for the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors. So it was back to the state capitol for a couple more years,” Jones said. Jones later moved to California with her son Mark and former husband Casey in 1987.
“I went to work as public affairs director for the San Fernando Valley Association of Realtors, where I first had the opportunity to meet and appreciate Supervisor Antonovich,” said Jones who later went to work for Antonovich in 2000. Jones said she is serious about her work.
“I can truly say that working for Supervisor Antonovich is the most challenging job I have ever encountered and came along at just the right time in my life. It is not a responsibility that one takes lightly,” Jones said.
But despite her long hours and busy calendar, Jones said the Supervisor’s schedule is always busier than hers.
“I am part of a terrific hard-working team. I find Friday morning staff meetings not only informative, but we find time for a little fun and good humor,” Jones said.
“Joanie Runyon and Shirley Williams keep the Santa Clarita office running smoothly while Bob Haueter and I are in the ‘field’ or Downtown. Our intern Sharlene Duzick is a ray of sunshine always willing to pitch in and help. Supervisor Mike sets a shining example of high standards and values for his staff to follow,” Jones said.
Lambourne said she enjoys the positive impact she is able to have on the community through her work with Congressman McKeon.
“My job is enjoyable because I have an interesting, multi-faceted position that keeps me challenged,” Lambourne said. “I am so lucky that my duties mean I work among my friends and neighbors.”
Lambourne’s duties include representing Congressman McKeon at local social and political functions, speaking on his behalf, acting as a liaison for local organizations to communicate the concerns of the community to the Congressman, assisting constituents, coordinating federal grant requests and undertaking any special projects that arise.
“Congressman McKeon has a special, heartfelt interest Santa Clarita Valley and he wants to be sure his constituents are assisted in every way possible,” Lambourne said.
Working for McKeon came about as a natural progression of her friendship with the McKeon family.
“I have known Buck for many years. He and his wife Patricia were our neighbors. When our daughters were older, I volunteered to work on one of Buck’s campaigns,” Lambourne said.
“When an opening occurred in his campaign office, I was offered the job,” she said.
Lambourne later began working in the Congressional office as well, and eventually switched completely to the Congressional office where she has worked for McKeon for five years.
A long time resident of Santa Clarita, Lambourne has lived in the SCV for 24 years and has always been active in the community, beginning first as a Brownie leader (Buck’s daughter, Tricia, was in her troop.) She is currently on the board of the Santa Clarita Repertory Theatre, and has served on the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation, The Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Sand Canyon Trails Committee, Canyon High Parent Advisory Committee president and has worked in the PTA both locally and at the District level.
She received the PTA Honorary Service Award for outstanding contributions to children and the community, and I have also been honored by the Baha’i as a Women Making History in the Santa Clarita Valley nominee.
But there are two accomplishments that stand out most for Lambourne.
“One was helping to save the Mitchell Adobe School from destruction. Yep. I stood in front of the bulldozer. The other was being one of the key planners for the SCV Country Fairs to raise money for Earthquake preparedness,” Lambourne said. Lambourne explained that Chris Connelly chaired the events.
“Starting in 1989, the committee raised enough money to purchase metal cargo containers to house emergency food and water supplies for each school in the valley,” Lambourne said.
Lambourne grew up in Simi Valley where her educational emphasis was Computer Science.
“I started working as a keypunch operator for Pacific Bell, and later as a computer operator for Pacific Bell and Security Bank. I then worked as a marketing representative for Singer Business Machines,” Lambourne said.
It was Lambourne’s my responsibility to design and implement data entry and telecommunications systems. She was recognized as one of Singer Business Machines top 30 sales representatives in the nation. She was the first woman, and the youngest ever to be honored.
Lambourne later retired to raise her daughters Angi now in education and Lindsey now in medical school). She has been married to her husband Steve, a small business owner who imports tropical fish that supplies to pet stores throughout the western states. Lambourne said she plans to continue to work hard for the congressman and her constituency in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Luse, who serves as the district representative for State Senator Tom McClintock, is involved with several organizations in the community. Her activities working with the Chatsworth Women’s Club, Chatsworth Community Coordinating Council, San Fernando Valley Girl Scouts’ Council, Northeast Valley Residents’ Association, Ventura County Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association, Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce, and various political associations. She is active in her church, St. Genevieve’s Parish.
“The best part about working for a State Senator is the ability to meet and work with so many people in the community,” Luse said. “Included in this is getting things accomplished such as assisting people with problems with the state bureaucracy or getting the message out about various pieces of legislation that do affect people’s lives,” she added.
Luse said that there are so many laws passed in Sacramento every year that people may not feel the effect directly.
“The laws do have an impact on everyday life- from the amount of time it takes to get to and from work, if a local business will be able to stay alive and provide jobs in the area, or even if there will be enough money in the family budget after taxes to purchase needed items for the family,” Luse said.
Luse became interest in getting involved in political life at a young age. An interest in American history first sparked her interest.
“I have always had an interest in American history and our system of government in the United States, from the fortitude and determination our founding fathers exhibited to the challenges our leaders face today,” Luse said. Luse also found inspiration in the Reagan Presidency.
“I grew up during the Reagan Presidency and was very much influenced by his willingness to stand-up for what he believed and his optimism for the American spirit,” Luse said. “The ability of the individual to fulfill their full potential and provide for their family is the basic building block for a strong community. That is why it is so important that the freedoms that are sometimes taken for granted must be protected for the strength and blessings of America to continue.”
Luse began her work in the political arena as an intern for McClintock while he was an assemblyman.
“I admire his intelligence and Tom’s integrity. He’s very knowledgeable and cares a lot about state issues.
Luse was born and reared in the San Fernando Valley and attended public and private schools in the Valley, including receiving Bachelors and Masters degrees from California State University, Northridge.
Luse plans to continue her work in public service and possibly run for public office. “If I can make a difference in a particular office, then I would definitely consider running for that,” Luse said.
Schultze, who has lived in Simi Valley since 1978 said she enjoys her work with Assemblyman Richman. She first met Richman in January of 2000 at a Simi Valley Chamber luncheon.
“I was Chairman-Elect for the Chamber and was the CEO for a nonprofit organization. He was just starting to campaign for the Assembly and was getting to know the community,” Schultze said.
Schultze and Richman met again a couple weeks later and talked more about the community and his campaign.
“A couple months later he offered me a job as his Campaign Manager for Ventura County and I haven’t looked back,” Schultze said. Schultze first became involved in government during her son’s involved in my son’s baseball league, while serving on the Board of Directors.
“We were in the process of developing new fields and dealing with the County and City, and all the red tape. I believed there was no common sense in government and decided to get more involved,” Schultze said. She was later appointed to our Neighborhood Council and then ran for, and was elected to the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.
Schultze was elected as a Director to the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District in 1988 and served for six years, serving as Chairman in 1992. While serving as an elected official, she served on numerous community committees that dealt with issues such as, affordable housing, open space, recreational land use, social and human concerns, and finance.
Schultze has served as Chairman for the Rancho Simi Open Space Conservation Agency and Vice President of the Ventura County Special Districts Association. She is the Founding President for the Freedom Tree Organization, a national nonprofit that plants trees in honor of the men and women of our armed forces, serving past, present and future. She was the Chairman of the Simi Valley Chamber Accreditation Task Force, resulting in a 5 year accreditation. In 2000 she served as the first Chairman of the Board for the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Currently Schultze serves as Chairman for The Strathearn Community Foundation. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation. Schultze continues to volunteer for fundraising events for the Boy and Girls Club of Simi Valley and through her work with Assemblyman Richman, she is involved with many other organizations, events and issues facing Simi Valley and other areas in Ventura County and the Santa Clarita Valley.
“I’m still a believer that there is no common sense in government so I enjoy breaking through the red tape and making sense of it,” Schultze said.
“I enjoy working with people to help solve problems and making friends in more than one community,” Schultze said.
Schultze said the best thing she likes about her job is working for someone she admires.
“Tom is someone who is honest, hard-working and dedicated to making a difference in government for the people. I am looking forward to meeting more people and getting more involved in the Santa Clarita Valley now that we serve the entire area.”
©Copyright 2003, Signal (CA, USA)
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