SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Susanna Hansell Fong and her husband, Paul, spent a couple hours with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday, including driving to a restaurant near the capital in his Hummer. A photo of the "governator" talking to a diner about his political reforms, with Susanna and her clipboard next to him, ran in several major newspapers around the country.
The 1993 Weston-McEwen High School graduate got the "job" through her sister, Elizabeth Hansell, who graduated from Weston-McEwen two years after her sibling. Elizabeth arranged for Susanna and her husband to accompany Schwarzenegger during the lunch hour as he canvassed for support of reforms ranging from changing the state's public pension funds and how teachers are paid to revising how political districts are drawn. Susanna and her husband collected signatures in support of ballot initiatives supporting his reforms.
Elizabeth Hansell works for Meridian Pacific, a political consulting firm in Sacramento. The company is helping Citizens to Save California promote several ballot initiatives, and Hansell coordinated five volunteers to gather petition signatures with the governor.
"We were very happy with the event," she said, noting that the photo of Schwarzenegger and her sister was picked up by the Associated Press. The photo ran on the front page of the Sacramento Bee newspaper and in several national newspapers, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as in the papers and on the Web sites of most California papers.
"In my work, we do a lot of behind the scenes work for different events," she said, adding that finding volunteers is either "very hard or very easy." It was a breeze finding volunteers to work with the governor, she said, starting with her sister and brother-in-law, who were eager to help.
Working with Schwarzenegger was a natural for Elizabeth and Susanna, who come from an family active in Republican politics. Their father, Bill Hansell, is a longtime Umatilla County commissioner and president-elect of the National Association of Counties.