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A Boost for the Buckeye State

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), who won a special election in December to replace late GOP Rep. Paul Gillmor, is now staffed with six smiling new faces, all of whom Hill Climbers has the privilege of profiling. First up is Ryan Walker, chief of staff, who hails from Defiance, Ohio. Defiance (the city, not the action) is in Latta’s district.

[IMGCAP(1)]Walker, 29, previously served as legislative director for Gillmor, who passed away in September. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and political science from Kent State University in 2000 and a master’s from The George Washington University in 2005.

Allison Witt, from Buffalo, N.Y., is the Congressman’s new legislative director. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University in 1998 and a master’s from Ohio University in 2007. Witt, 31, worked in the Ohio Legislature for Latta for four years and more recently worked in government relations in Ohio for Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter.

Witt’s goal is to “use all of my experiences to impact public policy to positively impact this nation.”

She is a member of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Latta’s new press secretary, David Popp, grew up in Wilmington, Ohio. The 26-year-old Eagle Scout earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio University in 2004.

Popp’s previous work experience includes a position as correspondent for the Talk Radio News Service. He was also an aide to former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and to Ohio state Sen. John Carey (R).

He has experience reaching across the aisle, too — at least when it comes to family members.

“I was my mom’s campaign manager for her City Council race this past fall in my hometown, which she won,” Popp

told Climbers in an e-mail. “What makes this interesting is that she is a Democrat. I take pride in the fact that for as much of a staunch Republican that my Dad and I are, I was able to manage a [Democratic] campaign and work with my mom to be successful.”

What about his hometown Republicans?

“I continue to get comments from the GOPers when I go home, but like I told them on election night, ‘Blood is thicker than politics,’” Popp said.

Cory Toth, 25, is from Follansbee, W.Va., and is Latta’s new legislative correspondent. He studied history and political science at Davis & Elkins College.

His experience includes working for the PGA Tour at TPC Avenel golf course in Potomac, Md., and teaching golf.

His goals are ambitious, to say the least, and reflect his interest in both sports and politics.

Toth wants to “work my way back to competing on a professional golf tour again, or move back home to the northern panhandle of West Virginia, run for office and help the Republican Party take West Virginia by storm.”

Toth also shared two interesting facts about himself with Climbers: He has a “shopping addiction” and he “loves his Italian heritage.”

“Nothing beats a homemade plate of macaroni and a great glass of homemade red,” he said.

Hillary Solt, from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, also joined Latta’s staff, as his executive assistant and scheduler. She is 25 and earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Ohio Northern University in 2005.

She previously served as a legislative aide in the Ohio Senate.

And Bethany Peck is the Congressman’s staff assistant. Peck, 22, is from Bel Air, Md. She studied history and political science at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, earning her bachelor’s degree last year.

Her main responsibilities in Latta’s office are constituent relations, answering the phone, scheduling tours, sorting the mail and “learning as much as I can,” she said.

Peck was an intern in the Maryland Senate, worked on Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-Kan.) presidential campaign and was an intern at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Her goals are to work for the Defense or Homeland Security departments, to be a high school history or government teacher and to be a soccer coach.

Peck belongs to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and plays soccer. Her most embarrassing moment on the Hill is sort of a conglomeration: Every time she travels in the tunnels around the Capitol complex, she has to ask for directions.

Best of luck.

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