Four days after graduation, Samantha Gunther landed a job with Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma. She served first as an assistant and worked her way up to legislative correspondent. After moving to Colorado Springs, the Pennsylvania native and graduate of Mount St. Mary’s became assistant to Council, putting her education and federal experience to work for the city. She’s traded her love for the ocean for the Colorado outdoor lifestyle, and she plans to help shape the city’s future through her role with City Council.
I was born in Abington, Penn., [Philadelphia suburb] and lived in Amber, Penn., until I was 14 years old. My family moved to Kent Island, Md., and I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay. I graduated from Kent Island High School in 2005, where I played soccer and ran track. I set several school track records and placed second in state. I was recruited by several schools but chose to run for Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. I graduated from Mount St. Mary’s in 2009 and received my Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in political science and sociology. I will receive a Master of Arts in political science with an emphasis in politics and public policy from the University of Colorado Denver this fall.
What brought you to Colorado?
I’ve been living in Colorado since the summer of 2012. My husband has a career in the Army and has been stationed here for almost four years. We were high school sweethearts and I moved here after we got married in 2012. It’s been a privilege to call Colorado, especially Colorado Springs, my home.
Do you like it here? Is it a desirable city for YPs?
I have to be honest, at first I did not like it here. Where’s the water? But after living here, I’ve fallen in love with Colorado Springs, the mountains and everything that makes up the Colorado frontier lifestyle. I never want to leave. At heart, I’m a country girl, and Colorado has that perfect balance between city living and outdoor living. I think that Colorado Springs is very desirable to young professionals. Could there be improvements — sure! But the community is very supportive, responsive, and recognizes that there is a need for young professionals to stay here.
What were your previous jobs, and how did you come to work for the city?
Four days after I graduated college, in 2009, I started working for Sen. James Inhofe, [R-Okla.]. I started working in an entry-level position and worked my way up to legislative correspondent. I was required to review, research and examine legislation around commerce, aviation and rail, FCC, Internet, science, technology and space, telecommunications, family issues, immigration, judiciary, law enforcement, welfare, government affairs, FEMA and postal service. I met regularly with state and community leaders, constituents, lobbyists and company executives in Washington and in Oklahoma. We would set and share policy then communicate the senator’s position. I had a very memorable experience organizing an African [continent] Leadership Delegation event during National Prayer Week.
When I moved to Colorado Springs I did not know a single soul. I immersed myself in the military community attending career fairs, workshops and luncheons designed to help transitioning service members or military spouses. I volunteered and tried to meet people and make those connections that are so crucial when becoming part of a community. I was shocked to learn about the many opportunities in Colorado Springs. From a young age I’ve always enjoyed politics, and knew when I moved here I wanted to work with elected officials. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with the Colorado Springs City Council as assistant to Council.
You work downtown — how do you like it? How could it be improved? How do you participate in the community?
Working downtown is great. It is a city you can drive around in and not get lost. You can always find parking and traffic is not really that bad — unlike Washington, D.C. The downtown area is becoming more vibrant since I’ve been here, and I believe that it is only going to become more appealing and unique. I’d like to become more involved in the community, and every day I learn of new opportunities and feel like the community has become a bigger part of my life. I have an 8-month-old son, therefore my involvement in the community is somewhat temporarily restrained. However, I still attend community events frequently, and I am on the trails hiking and running almost every weekend.
What is it like to work with elected officials — tell us a little about the difficulties and delights of your daily work?
Working for elected officials has been a great experience. Having worked for the federal government and now local government has allowed me to see governments with very different challenges and responsibilities. Having worked with the federal government in so many areas has provided a great foundation that has benefited me at the local level. One thing remains consistent at all levels of government is that there’s never enough financial resources. I enjoy working with all stakeholders and helping to prioritize, support and execute a plan that allows everyone to achieve their goals.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time my family is outdoors every chance we get. We love camping, hiking, fishing and hunting. Anything that gets us outdoors and spending quality time together is how we enjoy spending our time, and Colorado Springs is just the place that allows us to do that.
Plans for the future?
I plan to continue to take advantage of the natural essence that Colorado Springs offers. I look forward to helping shape Colorado Springs for our and my child’s future. Colorado Springs is a great, vibrant and growing community. I look forward to continuing to learn from my colleagues and growing my career with the city.