Cannon’s new staffers were easily infected with love of politics

The Washington strain of the political bug is plaguing Rep. Chris Cannon’s (R-Utah) new hires.

At 22, Adriel Pond, Cannon’s new staff assistant, is one of those who caught it.

“I kind of have a love for George Bush,” she said. “I know. It sounds absurd. People tease me about it in the office.”

Born in Germany and raised in New Jersey, Pond was so impressed after reading a biography of Bush that she switched majors from nursing to political science.

She volunteered for Mayor Lewis Billing’s reelection campaign in Provo, Utah, and was soon offered a job on Cannon’s reelection campaign in January 2006. Last summer she interned in his congressional office. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she returned for a paying gig in September.

As a staff assistant, Pond conducts policy research, writes letters to constituents and helps with administrative and press work.
“I love to research the different issues because … you’re formulating this entire understanding,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to figure out [the details].

“I feel like I actually know where my opinion or [my boss’s] opinion is actually coming from,” she added.

When she recovers from politics, Pond may pursue a career in nursing or earn an MBA and go into marketing.

Cannon’s new legislative assistant, Ryan Frandsen, 32, has spent a lifetime battling the political bug, fighting it back once only to have it return with a vengeance.

As his father served in the Utah legislature for 19 years, Frandsen was exposed to politics early on, doing campaign literature drops at age 7 in his neighborhood in South Jordan, Utah.

Later, while a Mormon missionary in Romania, Frandsen had a freak run-in with the bug’s strain in Eastern Europe. During intermission at a ballet, Frandsen and three other missionaries introduced themselves to one of the attendees: Ion Iliescu, president of Romania. The missionaries thanked Iliescu for allowing them to visit his beautiful country. He, in turn, congratulated the three Americans and one Canadian on their command of the Romanian language.

“We thought it was a pleasant encounter,” Frandsen said. “The next day, the newspaper ran a parody story with the headline: ‘Mormons attack Iliescu.’ Not really the positive type of PR we needed.”

In college, Frandsen interned for both his father and John Swallow, a Utah legislator who unsuccessfully ran against Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) for Congress. Later, he worked on Cannon’s campaign, interned for Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and worked briefly for Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.).

Frandsen earned a degree in political science from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of New Mexico with a concentration in policy and planning. He also worked in the private sector, conducting marketing research and political polling.

When the bug abruptly returned, it landed him in Cannon’s office. Frandsen now handles a host of issues ranging from education and labor to foreign affairs and Social Security.

“I can’t believe they pay me to do this job,” he said. “I really enjoy it. I’m kind of a current affairs junkie. I like being involved in what’s happening.”