Aides to Rep. Akin contemplate sweet idea

She has the idea, he has the business plan, and together they could create the city’s next cupcake bakery.

But the woman behind the idea, Kate Mersman, first has to tackle her day job: working for the office of Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), where she recently climbed from legislative aide to legislative assistant.

She says running a bakery that specializes in cupcakes is more than a lofty dream; it is a 15-year plan.

While she and her roommate have a logo already designed — a little cupcake with “Katie and Kate’s cupcakery” beneath it — there is one small hitch.

“We don’t have any recipes yet, but we’ve got some ideas,” said the 25-year-old Mersman, who has worked in the Missouri congressman’s office for almost four years.

Mersman’s possible future partner is her co-worker Gene Diamond, who moved from staff assistant to legislative aide in Akin’s office this month and took on some of Mersman’s policy responsibilities, such as housing and Social Security.

Five years from now, Diamond said, he would like to be in a joint degree program for business and law so that he can learn to run a small business. Luckily for him, Akin sits on the House Small Business Committee.

“It gives you the opportunity to look at how businesses are operating back in the district and nationwide,” said Diamond. “So I’m using this as a kind of discernment process.”

A native of St. Louis, Mersman first came to Akin’s office as an intern in her senior year at Miami University (Ohio), where she graduated with a degree in communications and a minor in political science.

With the new job shift, she took on the legislative issues of the energy, water and appropriations.

A self-described “slow and steady” athlete, Mersman is a four-time marathon runner who has paced herself professionally as well to find satisfaction at work.

“It wasn’t a specific moment in time. It happened gradually by getting to know the other people in the office better and having fun with them while enjoying the work side of things with your boss,” she said. “You know, it’s the whole package that has led me to stay here for nearly four years.”

Diamond comes from the Chicago suburb of Palos Park. The oldest of five, Diamond graduated from St. Louis University with a history degree. While interning in Akin’s St. Louis district office last year, Diamond said the desire to help Missourians began to sprout.

“I was really impressed with the staff there and how they took a genuine interest with the constituents as they would call up or come in,” he said. “And while it would probably be unfair of me to say I knew at that moment that I wanted to come out here and work in this office, I really appreciated the work that they were doing there, and that [helping constituents] would be something I would like to do.”

As Diamond and Mersman swap responsibilities for the next step in their professional lives, they also share the prospect of swapping recipes in the future.

“I’m actually a really big dessert fan and I often talk about how much I like her desserts,” said Diamond. “I’d be more than happy to help out if they ever need someone.”