The first thing people notice about Susie Futch is the beaming smile that accompanies her sparkling eyes as she warmly greets them. For her, it comes naturally and it is a perfect fit as the district aide in the Bartow office of Florida state legislator Rep. Ben Albritton, according to Karen Whaley, senior district aide.
Futch took on the position Sept. 9, following a brief stint as the café manager of the main campus of Polk State College in Lakeland. Prior to that, she was a manager at the Bartow Fred’s Southern Kitchen. It was while she was at Fred’s that Futch was introduced to Whaley.
“Karen and I met when she first came to the area,” said Futch. At the time, Albritton had won election to his first term and Whaley, who had worked on his campaign, was placed in charge of opening the Bartow office. Whaley hailed from Wachula and was new to Bartow. “We had a Chamber (of Commerce) event that night and I invited her.”
That chamber event was a welcome introduction to many for Whaley.
That was in 2010 and through the years the two kept in touch. From there, their friendship developed. When an opening developed at Albritton’s Bartow office (in addition to Bartow, he has offices in Hardee and DeSoto counties), and funds became available, Whaley immediately knew who would be the best person for the opening.
“Karen knew I wasn’t working,” said Futch, who added she had recently resigned her position as the café manager at Polk State College. “This was a new position that came open.”
“I knew she would be a perfect fit for this position,” said Whaley. “Knowing Susie from Fred’s, she gives 110 percent.”
The fact the two are friends has proven to be a plus for both of them. It makes for a comfortable atmosphere. That, in turns, has helped Futch pick up on the responsibilities her position entails.
“I had some trepidations at first, but I knew my friend was going to be training me,” said Futch. “It has been better than I could have ever imagined.”
Until Futch came on board, Whaley said she had been “treading water.” With Futch, the workload has been eased.
“My time is cut in half,” said Whaley. That has freed her to focus on other areas, especially when it comes to assisting constituents. The latter is of utmost importance. “Rep. Albritton cares very much for his constituents.”
With Futch handling many of the daily routines, Whaley can better serve constituents who turn to the representative’s office for help, as well as for requests to either meet Albritton or request his appearance at a function.
For Futch, now working in the capacity of a government employee, it has been an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve found it very interesting how government works,” she said. It has raised her level of esteem and respect for Albritton just how passionately he cares about the people he represents. “He’s a phenomenal guy.”
Futch learned Albritton is passionate about other matters during an interview by Albritton and his wife. The interview took place at the Albritton homestead.
“When he asked Susie to tell him a little about herself, she instead spoke about her sons,” said Whaley. “That was all Rep. Albritton needed to hear, because family is very important to him. The fact Susie spoke about her sons and family was all it took. He said, she’s in.”
Albritton confirmed Whaley’s remarks.
“I think she is fantastic! She fits our family model,” said Albritton. “I’m honored she chose us and feel she will strengthen our already strong team.”