Marblemount teen helps around House
Clara O'Brien, a sophomore at Concrete High School, recently served as a page in the Washington House of Representatives. She was sponsored by Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.
Clara learned about the Legislature's page program from a most unlikely place: algebra class. Her teacher, Cheri Vanwagoner, recommended the program to students.
“I had no idea what the page program was,” said Clara, who was already interested in politics and decided to participate.
As a page, Clara was responsible for delivering messages and documents to legislators in their offices, committee meetings and the House chamber during floor sessions.
“It was a really great experience. I was able to see how things worked and met many new people,” she said.
During her week at the Capitol, Clara had a front-row seat in the House chamber to one of the most contentious debates of the session: the bill that would suspend the Taxpayer Protection Act, Initiative 960. The initiative, which was approved by voters in November 2008, required the Legislature to have a two-thirds approval before taxes could be raised. Senate Bill 6130 suspended the initiative, making it easier for the majority party to raise taxes. Clara performed her page duties in the chamber during part of the 10-hour debate.
“Our page program is a real eye-opening experience for many young people who get to experience first-hand how the Legislature operates,” said Kristiansen. “It was an honor to have a page come to the Capitol from Marblemount. Clara did a great job and we're all very proud of her.”
Clara, who is the 15-year-old daughter of Riley O'Brien and Celia Unsell of Marblemount, enjoys playing basketball, violin and piano. She's also an animal lover, with two horses, four rabbits, six cats and a dog. In the future, she hopes to go to college and get a law degree, which she may later use to enter politics.
To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor and be between the ages of 14 and 17. Additionally, pages are required to obtain written permission from their parents and school.
For more information about the legislative page program, go to: www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx
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###Washington State House Republican Communications