Republican District 11 state Rep. Craig Gagnon, top, is in his freshman term at the state House of Representatives. Gagnon represents Abbeville County and part of Anderson County. (Chris Trainor | Index-Journal)
Republican District 11 state Rep. Craig Gagnon, top, is in his freshman term at the state House of Representatives. Gagnon represents Abbeville County and part of Anderson County. (Chris Trainor | Index-Journal)

COLUMBIA -- Last year, Republicans Shannon Riley and Craig Gagnon worked tirelessly in an effort to get elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Since accomplishing that goal, the two political newcomers have been thrown into the deep end of the Statehouse pool and told to sink or swim. To hear their colleagues tell it, the two freshmen are swimming just fine.
Riley, a timber farmer and small businessman from Hodges, represents House District 13, which is made up of a large portion of Greenwood County. He is on the House agriculture, natural resources and environmental affairs committee.

Meanwhile, Gagnon, a chiropractor from Abbeville, represents House District 11, which is comprised of Abbeville County and part of Anderson County. Gagnon is on the House medical, military and municipal affairs committee.
About eight weeks into this year's legislative session, Gagnon said he is becoming familiar with the way things work at the Statehouse. He said he has worked to get to know as many of his fellow legislators as possible, as well as many others who have an interest in state government.
"I think it is going pretty well," Gagnon said. "It's a lot to learn all the ropes and to learn the mechanisms. But I've had a lot of good folks to ask and they have been very helpful to steer me in the right direction. It's a challenge. One of the hard things is to learn everybody's name and face and learn what they do. Then, you have all these folks that are liaisons and lobbyists and things, we see them all the time.
"They are important folks here because they do make you aware of certain issues that are coming up that they have a concern about."

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