Painting serves as mystical sign for staffer

Lindsey Mask, 31, saw a painting on the wall as a sign that she should work for Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). She first saw it when she interviewed in his office: a depiction of George Washington kneeling in the snow at Valley Forge, praying.

“For me it’s about a leader who believes in asking for help, for input,” she said. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), her employer at the time, had the same image in his office. So McKeon’s seemed a good fit. Originally she came to the office as director of outreach for the Education and the Workforce Committee, where McKeon is the senior Republican member. Now the Texas
State University graduate is McKeon’s press secretary. She divides her time between spokeswoman duties and committee work.

Mask made the leap from working as a TV anchor and reporter in Michigan to politics on the Hill.

“I didn’t feel fulfilled,” she said of her broadcast work. So she went to work as a speechwriter for a member of the Texas Senate, eventually moving to Washington.

“I realized I don’t like legislative work,” she said. “I like doing press.” With that the Texan went to work as Franks’s press secretary.

She feels settled in D.C., but does not know exactly what the future holds.

“Personally I have an interest in pursuing education and women’s roles in society,” she said. “I’m a big believer in women empowering each other.”

In that vein, Mask works with a young professional women’s group and mentors a 15-year-old girl through a Big Brother Big Sister program.

Peggy Noonan, speechwriter to former President Reagan, inspires Mask, who was a speechwriter herself for the Texas commissioner of education. She believes in what she’s doing and has an idealistic air about her. “I really do believe in our government and the service that we provide to the country,” she said.

She replaces James Geoffrey, who worked as both legislative director and press secretary for the congressman.

Jaime B. Chesire, 30, is the new legislative director.

It was 1998 when the University of Connecticut graduate first entered politics by interning for former Rep. Nancy Johnson’s (R-Conn.) campaign.

“That’s how I got the bug,” she said. “I enjoy the energy, seeing it all on the ground. It’s just plain fun.”

But her penchant for politics started even earlier. Both of Chesire’s parents were heavily involved in local politics in their hometown of Farmington, Conn. She recalled being “dragged” to community events.

“I have a picture of myself at age 7 at a parade wearing a Ronald Reagan T-shirt,” she said.

Cheshire eventually found her way to the Hill. She previously worked as legislative director for Johnson for seven years.

The California district and its congressman suit Chesire well. The district covers part of Los Angeles County and stretches up along the Nevada border towards Sacramento. Chesire says the district supports a great outdoor industry.

“Hiking is right up my alley,” she said, adding that she plans to visit McKeon’s district in the coming months.