Howdy! My name is Anders Svenningsen, and I have had the honor to work as Sen. Billig’s intern these past three months. Today I have the privilege to share in the traditional “Intern take-over” of the newsletter.

I am originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but currently, as a senior at Gonzaga University, I call Spokane home. At school, I am studying political science and criminology, and following graduation this spring my goal is to attend law school to eventually become a constitutional lawyer.

I have learned a lot through this experience, and below are three key takeaways:

The importance of constituent communication.

Coming to Olympia and jumping into the action-packed world of politics, policy, and legislation made a whirlwind introduction to the state legislature. My job includes staffing meetings, taking phone calls, and drafting emails. Constituent correspondence is a major responsibility for which I have a newfound understanding and appreciation. Reading and responding to emails sheds light on the wonderful impact civic engagement has upon the legislative process.

I have often found myself better informed by those who share their vital advocacy and invaluable stories. These stories, alongside input and feedback constituents bring to the table, equip our policymakers for legislating; they are the lifeblood of the lawmaking process, honing legislators’ connection to policy while upholding the ideals of democracy.

The deep spirit of collaboration.

I have developed an understanding of how constructive strides at the policy level are propelled by compromise and collaboration. Each representative, senator, and staffer on both sides of the aisle puts in an enormous amount of work to make sure things run smoothly and effectively. It is encouraging to see cooperation shine through as they legislate upon some of the most impactful issues of our time.

Additionally, I am not only working in Sen. Billig’s office—I am also splitting my time with Sen. Drew Hansen’s office, working in a similar capacity. The opportunity to help with two different senators’ offices affords me a unique experience and valuable perspective—the issues, processes, and focus of their legislative pursuits are distinct.

I have seen how both senators’ priorities and responsibilities align with the overall legislative system to achieve positive change for Washingtonians. Unique approaches between lawmakers fold intricately into a higher framework; each legislator might play different notes, but together they form chords, harmonies and eventually enter into the symphony of completed law.

The power of compassion.

At the center of all the grand policymaking efforts in the state, the legislators share a deep compassion for people on behalf of the communities they represent. I recently sat in on a meeting between Sen. Billig and a group of constituents hoping to rebuild following the destruction of the Medical Lake wildfire. I was in the area during the fires and know the extent of the devastation. I realized their efforts to raise awareness and bring change were on behalf of a community that desperately needed someone on their side. I was honored to play even a small role in listening to their story, resonating with their difficulties, and working to find a solution.

It is moments such as these that make me truly grateful for the chance to work in an environment where voices are heard, people are valued, and every individual is working to ensure life is a genuine reflection of dignity and freedom for all.

A look back.

This year is extra special because our two current legislative assistants were once interns! Click below to read Maddie and Bailey’s reflections from their first years in our office.

Maddie Sontag, 2023

Bailey White, 2021