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GOVERNOR’S AIDE WORKS HARD TO FIND SPEEDY SOLUTIONS TO CONSTITUENTS’ MYRIAD PROBLEMS AND COMPLAINTS

SHARE GOVERNOR’S AIDE WORKS HARD TO FIND SPEEDY SOLUTIONS TO CONSTITUENTS’ MYRIAD PROBLEMS AND COMPLAINTS

Most people have a hard time answering the few letters they receive a month, but Marsha Sanders, director of constituent affairs for Gov. Mike Leavitt, answers about 700 letters each month.

"And I still need to answer all these phones calls," she says as she picks up a stack of 300 messages.She takes complaints and concerns through letters, over the phone, from walk-ins and now from e-mail.

Sanders said she gets more and more e-mail messages daily. (The governor's e-mail address is governor@email.state.ut.us.) "I have an open-door policy," Sanders said. "I will talk to everyone from the students to the businessmen to our homeless."

But she doesn't just answer the letters. She takes the problems to resolution through her contacts in the 16 state-government departments. Sanders tries for a 30-day turnaround in starting to find a solution.

"If we can't fix it, then we will make it better," she said. "I don't want to see anybody fall through the cracks."

Sanders said that most who end up in her office have come as a last resort.

"They think that the governor can solve all their problems," she said. "But he can't - he doesn't have a magic wand."

Despite the absence of an "abracadabra," Leavitt praises Sanders for her commitment to her complex job and for making the governor's office more accessible.

"She is a very action-oriented person," he said.

Leavitt said his administration recruited her from Department of Human Services' constituent services because that department receives the most complaints in state government and she had handled them impressively.

Sanders gained her experience from working in various departments throughout the state so she knows a little about everything - a must for her job.

"I had no idea what `commerce' was and how it worked until I started here," she said.

Sanders worked with community action groups, check fraud, medical claims, veterans programs, recovery services and other areas before graduating to the Capitol in September 1993.

Sanders said one of her most unusual complaints came from a West Jordan man who said people dumped dead animals in his ditch. But most of her recent calls are about dead animals at Hogle Zoo, emissions, fish and game, and, of course, health care.

In the 84 working days from Jan. 1 to April 30, Sanders received 2,800 letters, of which 2,000 needed answers. She said she could not be so successful at her job without the help of her assistant, Doug Anderson.