Jim DeMint
U.S. Senator, South Carolina
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Constituent Service Staff Spotlight: Candice Boatwright
Posted by Kelly Long 12/03/2008 - 03:18:07 PM
Candice Boatwright, constituent service representative

I remember reading one of those employee handbooks upon taking my first job with a United States. congressman. You know the kind of handbook I am talking about -- page after page that reads like it was written by a bunch of lawyers and bean-counters wearing pocket protectors (now that I think about it, it probably was written by a bunch of lawyers and bean-counters wearing pocket protectors).

At any rate, I still remember one sentence from that handbook nearly 10 years later. It read something like this: each member of the U.S. Congress has the privilege of representing his or her constituents in making an argument or presenting a case before agencies of the U.S. government.

That is quite a responsibility -- to make the case of a constituent back home. It is a responsibility that Sen. Jim DeMint has always taken seriously. He devotes a great deal of his resources to ensuring that his constituents are well served and that their problems are heard by the right people. However, what some may not realize is that it is not just DeMint writing that letter, or making that phone call; he is usually being assisted by a young, dedicated staffer who knows how to work with people to cut through the red tape. When DeMint goes to bat for a constituent back home, a constituent service representative is usually standing beside him at the plate.

One such CSR is Candice Boatwright, of Lexington. I first met Candice when she was a young intern completing her political science degree at Winthrop. She drove from Rock Hill to Columbia twice a week to help staff answer phones and edit letters. Keep in mind that gas wasn’t cheap, parking wasn’t free, and we were paying her what we are able to pay all of our interns -- nothing. One could easily see her talent and potential.

Candice did not always plan on working in the office of a U.S. senator. She had always wanted to be a teacher -- another high calling. “For as long as I can remember,” Candice told me recently, “I knew I would one day teach fourth graders. It’s just what I thought I was made to do.” But her path changed during her junior year at Lexington High School. “I had this civics teacher who drove me crazy with her particular philosophy of government; a really nice lady, but we just disagreed. I knew in my heart that I had to be involved. I had to work with people who were committed to a conservative government.”

So I guess we lucked out, but somewhere in South Carolina there is a classroom full of fourth graders who aren’t so lucky. (There is always time for a second career down the road.)

That civics teacher wasn’t the only one who steered Candice to forsake the classroom for the congressional caseload; her father was a tremendous influence. “My dad retired after 25 years in the Air Force Reserves, so I grew up with the appreciation of our servicemen and women,” she said. “I think watching my dad all those years -- he was, and is, devoted to his country -- it made me want to serve my country at some capacity. I wanted to do what I could to help people, like my dad did.”

Candice and her fellow CSR’s are a devoted crew. They have a daunting task at times; DeMint’s office averages about 2,900 cases each year. They are not always able to do exactly what the constituent wants; in fact, at times there is nothing at all a constituent service representative, and for that matter a senator, can do to resolve a problem someone is experiencing. But I watch these folks work, and I am always amazed at how devoted they are to each case – to each constituent. Regardless of the outcome, they do what they can to help.

Candice, who moved back home and will soon be married to another Lexingtonian, is charged with helping constituents with Social Security, Medicare, Department of Labor and IRS issues. She manages cases from all over the state, but her primary office is in Columbia. She has been a part of Team DeMint since the summer of 2005.
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Regional Director
Kelly Long

1901 Main St
Suite 1475
Columbia, SC 29201
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About the Regional Director
Kelly Long has served at various capacities for Jim DeMint for nearly 10 years in his South Carolina offices. He grew up in Spartanburg and graduated from the USC Upstate. Kelly currently resides in Lexington with his wife and two children.
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