There are all different ways to lose a job, but when you are in politics, one of the most reliable ways to be out work happens after your boss, the politician, loses an election. That's what happened to Emmy Casa, of Mt. Holly, who operated as senior constituent services coordinator for U.S. Congressman John Adler, a Democrat, from Marlton.
Adler lost his Congressional spot in November after just one term, unseated by former Eagles football player Jon Runyan. When Adler was out of work, so was Casa. A few months later, on April 4, Adler died unexpectedly. "Such a young man," Casa said. "I couldn't believe it."
Interestingly, prior to working for Adler, a Democrat, Casa did the same job for two decades for his predecessor, U.S. Congressman Jim Saxton, a Republican, who retired in 2009. When Adler won Saxton's seat, Saxton telephoned him and suggested strongly that Adler keep her on. Adler took his advice, but that didn't happen this time.
"Even though Adler was from another party, he was wise enough to know that I had excellent experience," she said. The job of a constituent services coordinator primarily depends on contacts within government agencies, knowing whom to call to solve a problem. Over the years, Casa had built up quite a Rolodex of contacts.
The job can require some tact -- handling the caller who wants help in Washington because his dog's eyes are glowing -- could it be receiving data from another planet? It also requires a lot of compassion. "You have to be very sensitive, very compassionate. People have terrible problems."
Casa says that politicians are unfairly maligned. "People don't know how hard they work," she said. "It's very hard on their families. People think that politicians just make a lot of money and the don't do anything, but they work hard." Congressman Adler, she said, worked every weekend in his district before returning to Washington to work hard there and Saxton also worked hard. It's a strain on them, she said, to be constantly running for re-election.
Casa, who had interrupted her career as a legal secretary to raise her family, got her job in politics the old-fashioned way. She walked up and down the main street in Mt. Holly knocking on doors, looking for work. That's how she landed her job with Saxton, as a temporary fill-in for someone on maternity leave. The temporary job became a permanent one.
"In 22 years, I was never bored," she said. "Politics is very exciting. You are at the forefront of what is happening. Your boss is going to Washington and voting on what is affecting the world. You are on the pulse of what is happening in the world."
Now Casa is looking for a job as an administrative assistant or legal secretary, but hopefully for one that will allow her to use her extensive background in government relations and customer service.
Maybe Casa could be a role model, someone who has successfully worked both sides of the aisle. She laughed. "When I worked for the Republican, the Democrats would call and scream. But when I worked for the Democrat, the Republicans would call and scream."
Either way, the job was the same. Whether her boss was a Republican or Democrat, Casa kept her eye on the main goal. "My job was to help the constituents and make him look good."
Update: As of December, 2011, Casa is still serving constituents, except now the constituents are students at Burlington County College where she is an administrative assistant.
- Emmy Casa
- Hometown: Mt. Holly.
- Profession: Executive assistant, constituent services.
- Experience: Trainsed, supervised and advised staff on all matters related to Congressional casework. Resolved consitutent problems. Obtained grants. Composed and proofed documents. Worked as a legal secretary, handling billing and legal documents.
- Education: Queensborough Community College, New York, associate's degree in business.
- E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emmy Casa's resume
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Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or email@example.com.