March 27, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Hill Climbers: Aides See Opportunity In New GOP Majority

Tom Williams/Roll Call
From left: Jason Isakovic, Izzy Santa and Shane Skelton are new staffers in the office of Rep. Bob Latta this year.

New staff members in the office of Rep. Bob Latta hail from prestigious universities and previous jobs. But having an impressive résumé doesn’t mean one is prepared for some of the simpler tasks.

Like using the copy machine.

Communications Director Izzy Santa described her tussle with the machine as one of her most memorable on-the-job moments so far. Someone at the district office had sent a fax, but Santa couldn’t figure out how to get it. Legislative Correspondent Jason Isakovic, also new to the office, tried to come to her rescue. But neither knew what they were doing.

“Our legislative director interrupted and said, ‘Actually, it just gets e-mailed to you,’” Santa recalled.

Isakovic chimed in, “It was like the blind leading the blind.”

Both staffers are new to the Ohio Republican’s office, along with Legislative Assistant Shane Skelton. Each brings something different to the table: Isakovic is a Buckeye State native, Skelton is a self-professed policy wonk and Santa is strongly driven by ideology.

Although they met for the first time this month, Isakovic and Skelton unknowingly crossed paths on Election Day in 2010. Both men, who had campaigned for various Ohio races, were at the Renaissance Hotel in Columbus to help the GOP celebrate a slew of victories.

“We worked on 12 Congressional races — some Congressional, some state — and we won every single one,” Skelton said with a smile. “So it was pretty awesome.”

Meanwhile, across the country, Santa was working at the Cato Institute, transcribing television commentary and monitoring political pundits.

Santa, 26, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Florida with her family when she was 14 years old. She graduated from Florida State University in 2005 with degrees in economics and political science. The wide-eyed graduate didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do for a living, but she wanted to help “empower people and make a change in the system.”

Education became her niche when she took a job with the D.C.-based Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, where she worked on getting school vouchers into school-choice program charter schools across the country, including in Ohio. 

In 2008, Santa became Cato’s manager of media relations. And when Republicans won back the House majority in 2010, she thought it was a great time to get her footing on Capitol Hill and took the job with Latta this month.

Skelton also saw the majority shift as a great opportunity. “As a conservative, there was really no better time to get involved than in 2010,” he said.

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