Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 22, 2014

Take Five With Rep. John Olver

It’s Tuesday again, which means it’s time for HOH to hang out with a Member of Congress and mull over five fun questions. This week, retiring Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) talks a little science, rock climbing and bananas.


Q: You have a Ph.D. in chemistry and taught chemistry at University of Massachusetts Amherst. How do you think your time as a teacher and scientist shaped your political career?

A: The education to become a scientist was pretty rigorous, detailed and mathematical. So I’ve always been good at statistics and good at the details. I enjoy the environment and ecology — I could have been a biologist instead of a chemist. I’ve been on the House Appropriations Committee most of the time I’ve been in Congress — 18 years. And I’ve been on major subcommittees that deal with energy and all the science issues.

Q: We’ve heard you like to hike and rock climb. Where are the best hiking and rock-climbing spots in western Massachusetts?

A: My favorite places for rock climbing have been in New Hampshire and New York. There are good training slopes in Massachusetts, but the best ones are in the Hudson River Valley in New York. I’ve hiked much of the Appalachian trail in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

Q: What’s your favorite political book?

A: At the moment, I’m reading a book by [the late South Dakota Sen. George McGovern]. He gave me an autographed copy of his book, “What It Means to Be a Democrat.”

Q: What food could you absolutely not live without?

A: Bananas — I have one every day. I’m a creature of habit on food. And those small Dove chocolates.

Q: You must have a lot of favorite scientists. What scientists do you admire most and why?

A: I started college when I was 15, and I only applied to one school — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I wanted to be a civil engineer and build things like the Brooklyn Bridge. I admired a man named John Roebling and his son, Washington. They were the engineers on the Brooklyn Bridge. But I don’t really have a favorite scientist.

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