Gilman is a veteran of Congress, having experienced its power structure from all sides as an intern, a doorkeeper for the Senate sergeant-at-arms, a congressional aide and now as communications director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Democrats.
Gilman said 9/11, which happened shortly after he was hired as a full-time staffer, was a day he’ll never forget. The next morning, Gilman drove to work from his home in Alexandria, Va., heading north on I-395, and passing by the Pentagon, where smoke was still billowing from the crash site.
“I had to drive through the Pentagon’s smoke to get to work,” Gilman said. “It was definitely one of the most moving experiences of my life — to see that and to drive through it, to know I had to work on the Capitol, where later on we found out we were [a possible] target.”
A few weeks later, Baldacci’s office was the target of an anthrax attack and his staff was forced to vacate their offices. “There was this sense of, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Gilman said.
Yet he also recalled the unity that emerged after the attacks.
“Regardless of where you were on the political spectrum, everybody came together,” he said.
Gilman noted that today there is a perception that the strong sense of camaraderie has withered and Congress is plagued by polarization. While he admits there is some increased partisanship, he still sees Democrats and Republicans working together, just as he did when he first arrived on the Hill.
“I’m really happy to see that there remains a lot of bipartisanship still. It doesn’t always make the headlines, though,” said Gilman.
When he is not working on the Hill, Gilman can be found with his wife Kate and two-year-old daughter Mia at their home in Alexandria, or exploring the parks in D.C.
Gilman also enjoys photography and was quick to point to his photo of the World War II Memorial, which hangs in his new office.