It was an important job, to be sure.
But Anton Hopkins could not have known how much of a hot-button issue ambulance service would become when he began compiling data as Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown’s first and so far only intern.
For all practical purposes, Hopkins has been more like an executive assistant.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Hopkins, a 2012 graduate of Columbus East High School who will attend the University of Chicago in September. “I never knew there was so much to government.”
Hopkins, the son of landscape architect Art Hopkins and Glory Kulczycki, came to Columbus City Hall on June 1 to start his unpaid internship and will leave on or about Sept. 14. He said the time so far has been challenging, fulfilling, eye-opening and one of the best experiences of his life.
“His opportunities will be limitless,” Brown predicted. “He’s just an impressive kid: dedicated, reliable, smart and talented.”
The road that would eventually lead Hopkins to City Hall began in 2011 during the spring semester of his junior year at East, when city primaries were heating up and the races were set to determine the new mayor, the new Columbus City Council and the new clerk-treasurer.
Hopkins knew he would need a senior project toward the end of his senior year.
He said his interest in politics persuaded him to host a candidate forum for the mayoral candidates, which eventually landed at the new Commons.
Brown and her opponent, Democrat Priscilla Scalf, accepted Hopkins’ invitation, which launched a planning process in which Hopkins tapped the expertise of some of the community’s most prominent politicians about how to put on such an event.
It came off without a hitch.
Hopkins said it was after Brown emerged victorious that he approached her about possibly working through the summer as an intern. He submitted a resume before the mayor brought him on board to see what he could do.
His first big job was to call 42 communities with populations similar to that of Columbus to compare ambulance services.
He asked representatives from each what ambulance service they used and whether a subsidy was required. He also asked about how many ambulances they used and whether they were happy about their service.
Brown eventually used the data to help forge expectations for this community’s next ambulance service provider.
On Tuesday, the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety chose Columbus Regional Hospital to continue its emergency ambulance service.
Hopkins compiled data about the city’s fireworks ordinance and is working on collecting centralized purchasing data so the mayor eventually can find savings in the city budget by combining purchases for multiple departments.
Brown said Hopkins’ contributions have been beyond valuable. She said she has had Hopkins sit in on practically every meeting that she attends, including for the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety and the City Council.
She said Hopkins’ numbers crunching ability and solid work ethic has helped the city make better decisions on different topics.
“I’ve been impressed from the beginning,” she said. “Just a great kid.”
Who is Hopkins?
Name: Anton Hopkins
Duties at City Hall: Assists the mayor at compiling information. Projects have included calling like-size communities to ask how they handle ambulance service.
Parents: Art Hopkins and Glory Kulczycki
High school: Columbus East, Class of 2012
College: Incoming freshman at the University of Chicago
Major: Public policy
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