The Chief: Grace in a War Zone

Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:04pm

Upon returning from a war zone in Iraq, Steven Moore entered another battleground — politics.

Shortly after arriving stateside in 2006, Moore connected with a friend who was working on Illinois Republican Peter Roskam’s Congressional campaign in Chicago. Moore volunteered in that successful race, which led to Roskam asking him to move to Washington, D.C., and serve as the new Representative’s chief of staff.

Moore says the transition was easy. “Iraq was good preparation for Washington, D.C.,— he notes with a chuckle.

During his stint in the war-torn nation — where he worked as a public opinion researcher on the staff of Gen. George Casey, at the time the commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq — Moore conducted focus groups and polls in search of what the Iraqi people were looking for from their government.

“It was a very interesting thing to do,— he says. “I felt like I was helping, and I felt like I was making a difference.—

Iraq wasn’t Moore’s first polling stint. Before his work overseas, he worked in polling at Gorton Moore International in Sacramento, Calif.

“I could just spend hours looking over— polling data, he says, adding that polling results are usually delivered within 24 hours. “There’s a real satisfaction in the immediate reward of it.—

[IMGCAP(1)]Moore says the skills he used in Iraq have come in handy in D.C. because both jobs have required him to be attuned to people’s needs. “My job now is to figure out what people in the 6th district of Illinois want and what’s going to help them.—

Moore’s day often begins with a breakfast meeting attended by his staff. This is a time to check the day’s schedule and make sure everything is working the way it should.

“I’ve hired a really efficient staff,— Moore says. “My job is to help them be effective in doing their job. Largely what I do is make sure everyone has the resources— they need.

These resources can be anything from staff training to getting the Congressman’s attention on a particularly busy day.

Moore has a staff of eight working under him in Roskam’s Washington office. A staff director back in Chicago manages the staff in the district office.

One of the main things Moore looks for in a new hire is how he or she will get along with the rest of the office. After all, work is much more pleasant when everyone enjoys the people they work with. Moore says the key to the office’s success is their relationships with constituents. He tells his staff to think of Roskam’s constituents as customers.

“We want to fall all over ourselves to make sure our constituents are well taken care of,— he says. Moore says his staff spends a lot of time dealing with security and transportation issues surrounding Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which lies within the district’s limits. Other hot topics are taxes and the pending health care legislation.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Moore’s job is managing the schedule. “The hours can get to be trying,— he says. “It’s pretty much a 24/7 job.—

Still, Moore finds time to indulge in his favorite pastimes — spending time with his wife, traveling and taking photographs. “If my passport gets too dusty, I get a little antsy,— he says.

Most recently, Moore traveled to China and Tibet with a group of other Congressional staffers. He thinks it’s very important that those who work on the Hill travel abroad as a means of getting a better understanding of how their work affects others.

“Members vote on things that affect everyone in the world,— he says. “It’s important that staffers and Members of Congress get to go to these places and experience it firsthand.—

In the end, one thing that keeps Moore going is Roskam himself. The two have a strong working relationship, and Moore says Roskam is extremely accessible to him and the staff.

“We have a very flat office,— he says. Roskam “is always moving the ball forward.—