Senate clerk enjoys busy Capitol life

DES MOINES – While many choose to slow it down in retirement, Bob Christenson has taken a different route that has led him to the State Capitol.

After retirement last year, Christenson has spent the past two legislative sessions as clerk for Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center.

“I like to stay busy,” Christenson said.

Christenson, 63, who now lives in West Des Moines, lived and worked in Marshalltown for Emerson/Fisher for 33 years. He held public office himself as a member of the Marshalltown School Board for eight years.

“I’ve had an interest in politics,” he said. “I understand elected officials and what they have to deal with.”

As part of his clerk duties, Christenson helps set Sodders’ schedule, keeps him on that schedule and other duties to help the legislator wade through his day in the Statehouse during the session.

“His job is to keep me on task and keep me organized,” Sodders said. “He works great with folks who want to come up and meet with me. He’s been a great clerk.”

Christenson worked in the engineering department at Fisher and spent the past few years on the job traveling the country. When he first started as a Senate clerk last year, the fast pace caught him off guard a little.

“It’s probably a little faster pace than I had thought,” Christenson said. “It keeps you on your toes.”

He said while the bickering between legislators tends to get all the headlines, he appreciates the compromise he witnesses on a daily basis to get bills passed.

“Being here day in and day out you see how people work together,” he said.

He is married to Arlene McAtee, who serves as executive director of Mid-Iowa Community Action in Marshalltown. Christenson gets time off from his part-time retirement job between the months of April and January. So after the session concludes he finds time to “act retired” in the more traditional sense.

“I think I golfed more last year than my previous 62 years of life combined,” he said.