Ruffs enjoy working together at the capitol

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Rep. Patti Ruff’s son, Liam, has joined her at the capitol this session, serving as her legislative clerk. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

When Rep. Patti Ruff began this year’s session with the Iowa State Legislature, she had a familiar—and familial—face at her side, with son Liam taking on the role of her legislative clerk.

“My regular duties are to check the mail, send out the agenda for the education committee, organize her schedule and keep everything running smoothly so she doesn’t have to stress about minor tasks,” explained Liam of his role. 

Patti said legislators select their own clerks, hoping to find someone who is qualified but also a good fit personality-wise. The chief of clerk’s office then trains all the clerks in the duties they will have while at the capitol.

The idea to become his mom’s legislative clerk took root last session, when Liam was a senior at MFL MarMac. He spent a day with Patti at the capitol, working on a paper for his government class.

“We had lots going on that day, including Secretary Hillary Clinton stopping by,” Patti recalled. “Before he left that evening, he asked if he could clerk for me. I told him he was third in line. He said, ‘No, mom, I’m serious!’”

At the time, Patti said Liam’s post-graduation plans were up in the air, so she suggested that, if he was serious, he should attend DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) and be her clerk.

Liam’s now a part-time student at DMACC, splitting his time between school, clerking and working at Christian Photo in Urbandale. He said being a legislative clerk is a large time commitment, but enjoys the varied learning opportunities it offers, including an insight into the workings of government, as well as the people involved.

“I am in the process of government. I see it work like a factory,” he said, “with everyone doing their part to hopefully make the right decision in the end.

“What I find interesting is meeting all of these outstanding people almost everywhere I go. Whether they are constituents, representatives, senators and staff, I enjoy meeting new people. This position offers endless opportunities to see and handle the public.”

Enrolled in DMACC’s extensive photography program, Liam said the position also gives him access to one of the greatest architectural feats in the state to photograph.

Mother and son relish the time spent with one another as well. 

“I know not everyone could work with their children, but our personalities fit and we do get along now as adults,” Patti said. “It is nice to work with someone that understands my humor and quirks!”

For him, said Liam, “It’s the little things, like her buying me food.”

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