Anderson#039;s ready to meet budget challenges

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

ST. PAUL -- Being a state representative and an Austin High School teacher has its similarities.

At least that's what Jeff Anderson says.

The Republican freshman legislator from Austin said being a teacher has only helped him in his new role, taking over from the retiring Rob Leighton.

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"The correspondence part of it is a lot the same," Anderson said. "The technical reading part of it is a lot the same. But a lot of it is personal interactions. As a teacher, you're heavily involved with people. So is this. So that's probably the biggest similarities with this job."

From his fifth-floor office in the State Office Building with a "gorgeous" view of the Capitol directly to the east, Anderson said he's easing into the transition from teaching government, to being directly involved in it.

"The pace has been fast," he said. "But I've enjoyed that. It's always something different. It's what I expected and it's even more than what I expected it to be."

Anderson said getting more mail than anticipated is a change.

"It's more than what I expected it to be," he said. "I get about 20 letters a day, but most of them aren't from the district. But the letters from my district are the ones that get priority. I get about 70 to 80 e-mails a day. I try to be pretty good about returning correspondence as quickly as I can."

Anderson said the support he's received from family and friends has been tremendous. However, he admits it hasn't been easy to be away from his wife, Heidi, and their four children.

"That's probably been the most difficult transition, personally," he said. "I talk to Heidi everyday and usually before bedtime I talk with all the kids. I miss my family and I don't think that's a bad thing. They're very important to me. But it's a challenge."

For some, they have a hard time rolling out of bed each morning to head to work.

Not Anderson, who serves on the education policy, higher education finance and judiciary policy and finance committees.

"It's just amazing to come to work everyday," he said. "I'm still just very humbled the voters gave me this opportunity to be here. Even though we're facing major challenges, I truly look forward to coming here each day. When you walk on that House floor and the history that's there, it's very humbling to be there."

Dan Fields can be reached at 434-2230 or by e-mail at