Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2007

Doors opening for Boyda

Freshman politician learns ropes of new job

January 4, 2007


— When Nancy Boyda casts her first vote later today, she will do it from the floor of the grandest stage in American politics.

"I'm respectful of it, but I'm not worried about getting eaten alive. I'm ... a lot of people use the word 'gutsy,'" said Boyda, congresswoman-elect for the 2nd District of Kansas.

The Topeka Democrat, who will be sworn in today, will represent the district that includes the western half of Lawrence.

For Boyda and her staff, Wednesday was about settling in and learning the ropes.

At 9:45 a.m., she picked up her keys and unlocked her Capitol Hill office on the seventh floor of the Longworth House Office Building.

Her staff assistant, William Wake, a Kansas State University graduate, answered the phone twice in the first minute.

Boyda also found a familiar face who dropped by.

"All moved in?" asked U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Lenexa. "No, but you are getting there."

Moore's district includes the eastern half of Lawrence. His office is on the same floor.

Boyda showed her Democratic colleague around the office that includes a small reception area, a room for her office and a larger room for her Washington staff, led by Chief of Staff Shanan Guinn, a campaign staffer for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius who also worked in the Clinton administration.

Hands-on manager

Just before 1 p.m., Boyda huddled around a table with staffers while eating a salad.

The first official staff meeting was a conference call with aides from her Topeka office.

Some staff members met each other for the first time at the meeting. The day included unpacking boxes, setting up computers and other logistical tasks for the new team.

Boyda also represents a change for constituents after she defeated five-term Congressman Jim Ryun, R-Lawrence, in November. Wednesday morning someone called the office, apparently unaware that Ryun had been unseated, Boyda said.

"Do whatever you need to do to not make that person feel awkward," Boyda instructed.

Boyda's staff meeting broke up after five minutes because she had to run to a caucus. She was giving instructions on her way out.

"I'm a fairly hands-on manager - without micromanaging," Boyda said.

First 100 hours

The House Democratic Caucus spent about an hour in a closed session talking about issues and votes planned in the coming days on raising the minimum wage, reinstating loans and grants for college funding and reforming lobbying rules, which incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has dubbed the action of the "first 100 hours."

Later Wednesday, Boyda called the session informative. She didn't speak during the meeting, but said she had in earlier sessions. During the caucus, some members asked if leadership would accept amendments before the votes, Boyda said.

The answer is no, she and her colleagues were told.

"These are what was campaigned on. So there's going to be a straight up-and-down vote," she said.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, led a group of protesters outside the caucus session in the Cannon House Office Building.

Sheehan said Congress needed to reward the grass-roots effort and address bringing home troops from Iraq.

Boyda said Sheehan's actions wouldn't overshadow House Democrats' early agenda but said Iraq would continue to be a focus for the new Congress.

"President Bush hasn't even really made a recommendation yet, and that's expected within the next week or so, and he is our commander in chief," she said. "So I think we have this very good window in which we can actually get some legislation accomplished that will make a difference in people's lives."

As an incoming member of the House Armed Services Committee, Boyda also said she hoped to soon visit Iraq to help her gauge the status of the war and security situation.

She said Bush needs to opt to work with Congress, but if he doesn't, more oversight could result. The war was a major issue during her campaign against Ryun.

She also made a statement about the recent execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I think people are glad that that chapter is over, but I don't think it's going to have any long-term impact on what actually happens day to day in Iraq," Boyda said.

Pelosi's exchange

At 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, Boyda found herself on stage with several women members of Congress and Pelosi during an event at the Mellon Auditorium to honor former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

After Pelosi's speech, the incoming speaker exited the stage and reached out to chat with Boyda. Pelosi informed Boyda that Sebelius was supposed to appear at that same event, but Sebelius said she had to stay in Kansas to help with the response to the blizzard in western Kansas.

"(Pelosi's) amazing. She tells me there are 60,000 people in Kansas who don't have electricity. She's got the numbers and she knows what's going on in Kansas," Boyda said.

At 5:20 p.m., Boyda tried to flag down a taxi to meet her husband, Steve, granddaughter Paige, 11, and her father, Sam Palmer. She is still looking for a Washington apartment but has a temporary place to stay.

Wednesday was another day to get familiar with Washington for Boyda and her staff. Several exchanges provided evidence, including her chief of staff Guinn making sure Boyda could get to the caucus meeting by herself.

"At this point, yes. I didn't get lost this morning," Boyda said, gaining a laugh from staffers.

Boyda summed up her first day, in which she saw her name on a plaque outside her new office next to the Great Seal of Kansas.

"I want to get started. I'm ready to get started," she said. "I just found today very inspiring."


oldgoof 11 years, 5 months ago

I'm looking for the 60,000 without electricity. Anyone?

preebo 11 years, 5 months ago

I think Congresswomen Boyda will do well in her first term, and I know that Kansans will re-elect her to a seond. I worked for her in this last campaign and I know that she is a true believer in the civil service lifestyle. I also know that she will not make this a career. I look to her to serve only three terms in the House. She understands the need for a rotating door in public office to inject new perspective and life into the position.

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 5 months ago

I am waiting to see how Congresswoman Boyda does before I pass judgement. I only think it is fair to giver her a wait andd see approach.

penguin 11 years, 5 months ago

most of the cities west of Hays are still working on getting power restored from when it went out last weekend. my parents had been running on a generator until the other day. I'm guessing that is what is being referenced in that comment.

RightinLawrence 11 years, 5 months ago

Do we really need a huge story on this?? So what...there are tons of new congresspeople every two years. We don't really need a play by play of someone on the first day of a job . She hasn't done anything yet. When she starts introducing legislation, keep us posted. But, this seems like a really gratuitous story.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 5 months ago

"About 60,000 homes and businesses elsewhere in western Kansas still had no power, a state spokeswoman said, and utility officials said it could take more than a week to get them all back online."

excerpted from:

Western storm is blamed for 12 deaths Jon Sarche / Associated Press

I googled 'western kansas snow' and it was the first result.

angelaruss9 11 years, 5 months ago

I just heard what Senator Boyda said on abc with Charles Gibson, Thursday, 1/4/06, at 6:30pm, I am very dissappointed and did not like her comment about how the public should not have voted for Bush twice, if they didn't want a military surge in Iraq. The public has a right to change it's mind. That's why they voted for more democrats, this election, it's unfortunate that Boyda doesn't get it. Who is she representing anyway, couldn't be the voters who voted for her now! Anyway, I for one am very insulted with her comments and her stand on the issue of Iraq. Shame on her.

overthemoon 11 years, 5 months ago

I don't get it. Why are you guys on the attack when everything she said was simple, reasonable and rational? From my point of view, the press is hardly liberal...perhaps inane. Maybe too interested in selling time or print, but not liberal (or necessarily factual). It seems that it is the job of the press to print what comes out of our legislators offices, whether its spin or actual information. I'm not sure what 'doing its own work' would entail.

I actually enjoyed the slide show. And it is just so splendid to see Nancy there instead of Jim Ryun that I'm glad to see her checking out her new office. I think there should be more of these with our other legislators. I'd just love to hear Sammy Brownback try to sound as reasonable and attuned to his job representing this state instead of his own agenda as Nancy is on her first day.

Daniel Kennamore 11 years, 5 months ago

All I hear when i read you guys who are criticizing her already is "wahhhh...wahhhh...the republicans's just not fair...!"

overthemoon 11 years, 5 months ago

"In other words, softball PR spin pieces are just okey dokey as long as they don't feature a conservative"

Never said anything of the sort. Now, I did say I am glad Ryun is history. That's not because he's a conservative, per se, but because he is a total nincompoop. (hmmm, how do you spell that?) There is nothing wrong with conservatives as a whole....just a lot of really out-of-touch-with-reality individual conservatives these days. I would like to see all of our legislators get more their own words, without out-of-context clips. Of course we'd hear lot's of spin...but it seems that perception of spin speed is directly relative to one's own position. That is simply the theory of political relativity, I guess.

Now...if Denny Hasbeen was still Speaker, do you really, honestly think there'd be any greater level of sincerity, honesty and truth? Maybe it would be the fiction you prefer to hear, but fiction just the same. Let's not for get that they are ALL politicians.

By the would be kind of odd to be a member of one party and not consider your party leaders and representatives not superior in some way, wouldn't it? I think its kind of a given with a two party system.

texburgh 11 years, 5 months ago

This was a fine piece - an excellent profile of a new congress person outlining what she believes in and what she would like to see happen. It's not empty promises. We should have pieces like this every time a new person takes office - we should go positive and let them have an opportunity to express their beliefs without getting attacked or spewing campaign rhetoric.

Right Thinker writes like a whiney fool. His (or her) boy lost and now it's time to call anything positive regarding Boyda as pablum and liberal media bias (the LJW is liberal?).

The bottom line is this: regardless of what one thinks of the article and slide show, our do-nothing, no service, invisible congressman Ryun is gone. And we should all thank the Lord for that.

God bless the great state of Kansas and God bless Nancy Boyda!

RightinLawrence 11 years, 5 months ago

Texburg...we do have politicians outlining their beliefs and what they would like to's calld the election process...and it has just ended. Now, she can just go do her job.

We don't get a day by day report on Brownback and Robertson...and they represent all of the JW eadership.

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