Inside the Office of The House Education and Labor Committee minority staff: James Bergeron

Title: Deputy director of education and human services policy
Age: 36
Hometown: Houma, La.
Education: B.A. in political science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Last job: Director of member services and coalitions and budget liaison for the committee
Legislative specialty: Elementary and secondary education and disability policy
Favorite bill or law:  Empowering Parents through Choice Act to give parents of students trapped in low-performing schools public or private school choice.
If you could create a new committee or subcommittee, what would it be? I don’t really think we need to create a subcommittee to do this, but installing a bell system and a tunnel to Rayburn would at least bring the Ford House Office Building into the 20th century.
Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: When I was an intern in 1995, I was calling around to get members to sign onto an agriculture letter. One legislative assistant grilled me with detailed questions I couldn’t answer, yelling and berating me for not knowing the intricacies of dairy policy. He then called my legislative director and berated him. I’ve been over-preparing for hearings, markups and even simple phone calls for the last 15 years.
Interests outside of work:  Landscaping my yard, keeping my four dogs under control, reading, really bad reality TV, and I’m an Apple nut (technology, not food).

James Bergeron was working at a Yellowstone National Park lodge in the summer of 1995 when he interviewed over the phone for a fall internship in then-Rep. Bob Livingston’s (R-La.) office. Bergeron, now deputy director of education and human services policy for the House Education and Labor Committee’s minority staff, landed the gig.

Upon arriving at the Capitol, Bergeron says he was immediately “dumped” into Livingston’s campaign to impeach former President Bill Clinton. He was answering phones “almost all the way to Christmas Eve,” Bergeron says.

His internship ended, but instead of returning to his home state of Louisiana to help with his father’s company producing Mardi Gras beads and trinkets, Bergeron got hired for a full-time position in Livingston’s office. He stayed there through Livingston’s 1998 resignation.

Bergeron then moved to former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-Colo.) office, where he worked through the Columbine High School shootings, which occurred in Tancredo’s district.

Bergeron left Tancredo’s office in 2001 to work for Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) before taking a job with a California-based lobbying firm. He returned to the Capitol in 2006 when McKeon became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.

Bergeron is glad to be back at the Capitol. It’s an opportunity to “watch history from the sidelines and actually be a part of history in some respects,” he says.


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