Legislative assistant proud to serve new lawmaker

Written by Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal Media


MADISON — Annika Petty said there are not many normal days working in a legislative office in Madison.
“It’s certainly more than 40 hours a week, and there’s always more to do whenever you leave,” Petty said.
But Petty said the job is rewarding, and it’s why she’s decided to make it a career. Currently, she serves as the legislative assistant for Katrina Shankland, the new state representative for the 71st Assembly District.
“(Petty is) involved with everything, from my schedule to speaking with constituents,” Shankland said. “It’s a big job, and I’m glad to have her.”
Petty had served in the same role from May to December 2012 for outgoing 71st Assembly Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., now the Portage County district attorney. Shankland said she conducted about 30 interviews for the position before selecting Petty.
“I didn’t assume anything, and (Shankland) was pretty rigorous in the interview,” Petty said. “I got a good reference from Mr. Molepske, and I was fortunate to get the job.”
Petty said there are similarities between Molepske and Shankland in how they approach the job. She said they both have strong beliefs, and would seek to read andeducate themselves about any bill that comes to their desk. When it comes to Shankland, Petty said she has been particularly impressed with her enthusiasm.
“She is very motivated and obviously cares a lot about the constituents in her district, and I’m honored to be serving them as well as her,” Petty said.
Petty, 23, is a 2011 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in legal studies, international studies and German. Before working with Molepske, she had served as a legislative intern for Rep. Kelda Roys in the 81st Assembly District.
“I don’t ever see myself running for office, but I really enjoy working in government and being able to help people, so this is a great job for me,” Petty said.
During their time in Madison, which typically runs Tuesday through Thursday, Petty said one of her main tasks is keeping Shankland’s schedule together. Besides attending committee meetings and Assembly sessions, there are requests for meetings with fellow legislators, organizations or groups that Petty responds to, along with invitations to events. She also helps coordinate appearances and listening sessions when Shankland is in the district.
Petty also helps keep Shankland connected with constituents in a variety of ways. She said the office sends out about 50 letters a week, either in response to a constituent or congratulating them on an accomplishment.
“Constituent relations is very important. It can be a lot of different things, from feedback on how they think (Shankland) is doing to whether or not they support certain legislation. There’s even constituent casework, where we can help with an issue like unemployment compensation,” Petty said. “We feel like it’s important for people who contact us to feel like we are hearing them.”