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Speight Goes to Washington

During 1990s, the city of Henderson, Nev., was one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Its population burgeoned by more than 225 percent, to about 265,000, due to the influx of people wanting to move to the Southwest and the expansion of the gaming industry in Las Vegas. During it all, Phil Speight was Henderson’s city manager. And then Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) called and asked Speight to become his chief of staff. [IMGCAP(1)]

“When Congressman Porter asked me to consider going to work in Washington for him, I looked at it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Speight said. “It gave me an excellent opportunity to continue serving the people where I live.”

Speight was born in England and immigrated to the U.S. in 1958 from Canada, gaining U.S. citizenship after serving in the Vietnam War. He spent time at San Jose State University, receiving a bachelor’s in political science in 1974 and a master’s of public administration in 1976, after which he worked in Reno-Sparks, Nev., city government. Speight became a city manager in Colorado before taking the job in Henderson.

“Going to Washington is something that I always thought about doing,” Speight said. “I know a lot of people have an opportunity to do it at the beginning of their career. I had the opportunity to do it at the end of my career.”

Speight’s wife of 28 years will remain in Nevada while he works in Washington, D.C. They have one son, who is 26.

‘Yeaaa!’ When Jonathan Strong heard then-presidential hopeful Howard Dean’s infamous scream to his supporters in Iowa during the 2004 presidential campaign, he knew his time to make history had come. Using his “crazy” digital audio skills, Strong took the scream and set it pumping to Aphex Twin’s “Wax the Nip,” creating the first “Dean Goes Nuts Remix,” a blend of techno music and political faux pas that leaves even the most curmudgeonly of listeners breathless. “Dean Goes Nuts” started the revolution of Dean-scream songs, resulting in little, or massive, political effect, depending on who you talk to.

Now, Strong serves as Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) legislative assistant and legislative correspondent, taking care of letters, e-mail newsletters and Lungren’s Web site. He also is responsible for the issues of Social Security, defense and health care. Strong started as Lungren’s staff assistant in August 2006 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Strong, 24, aspires to work in journalism in D.C.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that I am a huge fan of Avril Lavigne,” Strong said when asked if he would like to see any more information included in his Hill Climbers write-up.

Hill Bemoans BlackBerrys, Chicken. “When most college students turn towards their inner bleeding-heart liberal tendencies, I turned away from my Democratic roots and became a conservative,” said Anna Beth Hill, 23, the new executive assistant to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). She now takes care of scheduling and office administration for Price, after working for World Hope International, a faith-based relief and development organization in Alexandria, Va. She also is a 2006 graduate of Wheaton College with a bachelor’s in international relations.

“After spending half an hour playing with what I thought was my new BlackBerry Curve” — Hill Climbers, by the way, does not know what a BlackBerry Curve is, but assumes it is a coveted object in the eyes of most Congressional staffers — “I found out it had really been ordered for my chief of staff,” Hill said. “I was getting the older model.”

The older BlackBerry has not been her only disappointment; Hill said she is upset that the Longworth Cafeteria does not include a Chick-fil-A. Despite these setbacks, Hill sounds perky on the phone and Climbers is confident she will excel in her new position.

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