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Making Her Opinion Count
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:00 AM
Erika Fisher, of Madison, talks about the work she does as an intern at the Statehouse. Fisher says she is not sure she would like to run for a political office, though she does enjoy the behind-the-scenes work of government. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
Erika Fisher works at her makeshift desk in a corner of a Statehouse office last week. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
The Indiana Statehouse is filled with towering archways, marble staircases and limestone busts of noteworthy Hoosier politicians.
Erika Fisher feels right at home there.
The 2010 graduate of Madison Consolidated High School is double-majoring in political science and law and society at Purdue University. She is the daughter of Julie and the late Chris Fisher.
The senior is currently working as an intern in the Senate office for Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, and Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.
Fisher's interest in politics traces back to her childhood and the 2000 presidential race.
"The first time I remember paying attention is probably when President Bush ran against Al Gore," Fisher said.
Her mother used to poke fun at her for being the only child interested in politics, she said.
She has always been opinionated, so politics just fell in her wheelhouse, she said.
"I've always been told I'm a very mouthy person, with a head of granite. So, I think just listening to other people kind of argue their points was fun."
Her interest in politics continued through high school when she worked on local elections and was a member of the Young Republicans. At Purdue, Fisher is the vice chief justice for the Purdue student government and worked for the National Rifle Association's campaign in northern Indiana last year.
When she graduates this spring she plans to attend law school. She's already been accepted to two programs, but is still waiting to hear from Vanderbilt University.
While she wants to work in politics, Fisher said she doesn't crave the spotlight that comes with being an elected official.
"I don't know how many people would actually want me representing them," she joked.
"Every move they make in the chamber, or any time they talk to a constituent, they have to be so careful because even the littlest mistake can be misconstrued."
What she would rather be doing is policy work and research when helping elected officials form opinions. That's what she's doing now.
Fisher arrives at the Statehouse by 8:30 a.m. or earlier.
"You research studies, take constituent surveys, take phone calls. I do a lot of that here. A lot of constituent work."
Fisher also puts together bill packets, schedules meetings and staffs the public policy committee every week.
And if a committee or a session runs late, as many have this session, Fisher stays until the day's activities are complete.
This year, much of the activity at the Statehouse has been wrapped up in House Joint Resolution 3 - a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages and civil unions.
"I would come in the morning and have 200 emails in one of the districts. You get phone calls every day. A couple days ago, I don't think the phone ever stopped ringing."
Many Hoosiers stood outside the House chamber holding signs in protest.
"It felt like a circus sometimes," she said.
Fisher said the intensity of the issue made for some stressful days, but seeing people passionate about politics was good.
"You have to admire those people. It's always nice to see someone passionate about something. Especially people my age. I don't feel like they ever get involved enough. It's refreshing.
"No matter what side you're on, advocating for your position. Because that's what makes democracy work," she said.
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