JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Aaron Richmond, a senior at Mizzou, is learning about both sides of the Capitol building during his summer internship in Jefferson City. Richmond interns three days per week in the office of Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and two days per week with her fellow St. Louis Democrat in the House, Rep. Courtney Curtis.
He got started pretty young, too, when his father dropped him off at a field office for then-Attorney General Jay Nixon’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign. Richmond wanted to do some work, but wasn’t exactly sure how to get started. His father, a retired automotive worker and lifelong Democrat, gave him “a little push.”
“He pushed me along, he told me ‘you’re going to do this,’ and he just dropped me off,” Richmond said. “He knew I had an interest in it, but he helped me get started.”
Richmond, who comes from Smithville, MO, just north of Kansas City, worked as a junior organizer for Nixon’s campaign in the northwest part of the state, organizing canvasses and managing phone banks. He got hooked and eventually went to work for former Rep. Martin Rucker’s unsuccessful Senate race.
“Politics is something that affects everybody, even if they don’t pay attention to it or even if it’s just in a small way,” Richmond said. “I guess I just liked the idea of being a part of that.”
Last year, Richmond interned for the Governor’s office, working in the office of Boards and Commissions answering phones and penning response letters. It’s not glamorous, but Richmond wants to get his foot in the door. He looks to go to Washington D.C. someday and work in the big leagues of national politics.
His father and grandfather were both auto-workers and also members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. His father, who retired after working for decades at the Ford Motor Company Claycomo plant, instilled in Richmond an interest in labor rights issues.
“Labor rights have always been near and dear to me,” Richmond said. “I’ve always been close with my dad’s connection with the UAW.”
When he first started the work in the Senator’s office, he found himself knee-deep in correspondences from constituents. During his first few weeks, Chapelle-Nadal’s office and Richmond responded to every single individual correspondence they’d received from a constituent during session.
“The Senator always says we are in the service business,” Richmond said. “Constituent services are her big thing, and I was really impressed by that when I saw it.”
Richmond said they responded to thousands of emails, letters and calls, and almost every response was crafted and individualized, not a cookie-cutter response.
“We made sure everyone who wanted to hear from her got that chance,” Richmond said. “And that’s an important job.”