Sherri Kempf has been around the Missouri House of Representatives for a half dozen years, one of the many career administrative aides who keep the institution humming from election to election, regardless of the name on the door.
On election night last fall, she enjoyed the landslide re-election of her then-boss state Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Ashland, amid the comforts of his office in Room 303 at the Capitol. Kempf's title that night was legislative assistant to Jones and secretary of the House Select Committee on General Laws.
Then Jones abruptly moved from those quarters, where Kempf helped him serve the needs of constituents in Boone, Cooper and Moniteau counties, to Room 216, the office of the governor.
As Gov. Eric Greitens recruited his inner circle of key staff, Jones was tapped to be his deputy chief of staff.
Just like that, Kempf's world turned upside down — at least in the accepted routine of House administrative assistants.
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Kempf's world wasn't upside down long, however. Adam Crumbliss, chief clerk of the House, quickly connected Kempf with state Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, who was in need of an experienced administrative assistant to help him.
Not that Kempf completely shifted her attentions from the constituents she had served and issues she had worked with under Jones. Crumbliss knew Kempf could handle duties with Korman while continuing to keep the office of District 50 open.
And so she is — juggling both offices and the needs of both districts.
Those chores for District 50 and Korman's District 42 will continue for the time being, as the 50th gears up for a special election in August to elect a replacement for Jones.
Kempf, the former stay-at-home mom from Boonville, said she can handle the changes. Indeed, she's optimistic and even happy for the two offices and two districts she staffs during the hectic days of a House administrative assistant.
"I never doubted God would open another door, or doors, for me," she said of the initial and temporary shock of Jones' recruitment by Greitens. Jones had no choice, Kempf said; you don't reject an offer like that.
It's worth recording exactly what a legislative aide does, considering Kempf is essentially running two of them concomitantly this Session.
Here's how she describes her work: "I meet and greet all constituents who call or visit the office. I document all business activity for the House committee. I organize catering for committee meetings. I track all bills given to the committee and their status on spreadsheets. I keep the calendar for the representative.
"I research, track and follow up on all constituent concerns. I attend events and speak on the representative's behalf. I follow the district news and update the representative as needed. I work through federal and state regulations."
All that, and she keeps in close touch with a large family in the Boonville area, including her sons Daniel, a former all-America offensive lineman for two-time national champion Northwest Missouri State University who now works for Monsanto, and Matthew, a mechanic and heavy equipment operator now launching his own business.
"I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing this winter," Kempf said of her two-office, two-district life.
"I feel like I'm just getting started on another part of my journey through life."