Brian Kerkhoven '01

Which dorm(s) did you live in?
Austin and Rooke.

What do you remember most about Colby-Sawyer?
Undoubtedly, seeing a moose a few days before graduation.

Which staff or faculty member had the biggest impact on you?
Definitely Ann Page Stecker. She opened my eyes to seeing the world from a different viewpoint while allowing me to voice my opinions –- which often differed from hers.

How do you think your classmates remember you?
Probably not as someone who would be working for a congressman.

Which bring us to our next question. What are you up to these days?
I'm a regional representative to Congressman James T. Walsh (R - NY 25th District), running his Rochester District Office. I do a fair amount of constituent casework -- you know, when you call your congressman with a problem. My job also involves a lot of outreach and coordinating appropriation requests –- earmarks –- from local municipalities, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

Earmarks…always a popular topic.
Well as long as they aren't for "bridges to nowhere" they are actually pretty integral to local economies and the betterment of our communities. Mr. Walsh grants a lot of earmarks to local colleges and universities. I hope Colby Sawyer is on the bandwagon.

How did you get into politics in the first place?
I was a summer intern for Senator Roth, from Delaware, between my junior and senior years of college. After graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C., and started working as a Capitol Hill staffer for Congressman Walsh. As his legislative assistant, I handled energy and environment policy, transportation and homeland security issues.

How does political life in Rochester compare to D.C.?
I was a Hill staffer for 5 years before I moved back up here. D.C. has a ton of egos, a lot of money and most of the people are lawyers or lobbyists. I read somewhere there are 70+ lobbyists in D.C. for every member of Congress. Here in Rochester, N.Y., no one really lobbies you like the special interests on Capitol Hill. Simply put, here it's local grassroots efforts while down there it is all about policy and fundraising.

James Walsh has planned to retire at the end of 2008. What will that mean for you?
It means I don't have to work another election, worry about fundraising, knock on doors or go to any campaign events for my boss. If there is anyone reading this looking for a seasoned political consultant or a VP for Government Relations, please call.

Last book read?
Netherlands 2006. My uncle who lives in Amsterdam mailed it to me about a year ago. It is about the increasing Muslim population in Holland and how the country's government is responding with strict new immigration laws and controversial entrance tests.

Favorite TV show?
“The Big Bang Theory. “

Favorite movie?
“Days of Thunder.”

Anything you'd like to say to your fellow alumni?
It's very easy to paint a pretty picture with campaign rhetoric.

Care to tell us who you think will be our next President?
As a former Hill staffer, I love hearing Obama and his notion of being able to change “inside the beltway” D.C. politics. Good luck, Barack. Honestly, what is he going to say to Hamas, North Korea, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? New Hampshire likes McCain. He may not be a libertarian who likes to Live Free or Die, but at least you can rest assured someone with actual leadership and political experience will be in the Oval Office.


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