Executive aide Katie Atkins, right, recently took a tour of the new Marathon Library facility with her boss, Mayor Michelle Coldiron. KIMBERLY MATTHEWS/Contributed

When a journalist makes the leap into politics, it raises eyebrows among those of us who run in these circles. Kind of like, when a Coke employee moves to Pepsi … when a Red Sox player joins the Yankees … or when a DC character crosses over to Marvel. You get our drift. Well, this is exactly what Katie Atkins did. 

She majored in journalism at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, graduating in 2010. From 2013 to 2016, she earned her chops as a reporter at The Post-Journal, close to Buffalo, New York. Atkins was hired, sight unseen, for The Keynoter, a Miami Herald newspaper. She later made a move to Keys Weekly. Yet, when she was offered a job as executive aide to Mayor Michelle Coldiron, Atkins took the opportunity without missing a beat. To her, the change made absolute sense. 

“It’s funny, because I was never involved in politics until I became a reporter,” Atkins explained. “I had a county legislature beat, which was very involved. My interest grew so much over a period of three years. I loved it.”

Herewith, 20 questions for Katie Atkins… 

Age? 32.

Where are you from originally?  Jamestown, New York.

Where do you live currently? Tavernier. 

Do you think you’ll ever run for office? People ask me if I ever want to be a commissioner. I always say I’d much rather support one.

What is your best quality? My work ethic.

What is a typical day like? Our schedule is jam-packed with so many meetings. We might be meeting with a constituent or going on a hospital tour at the new Fisherman’s Hospital. With Covid, it was Zooms all day, but now we’re going back to in-person. (Coldiron) is very involved on a bunch of boards and committees, all while we’re preparing for a regular BOCC meeting.

What is your favorite part of your day? When I’m able to tell someone there’s a solution to their problems. We have gotten so many phone calls that say, “I’ve exhausted all efforts to get my mom a vaccine. I don’t know what to do. Can you please help me?” “Yes I can.” It was nice to be able to tell people that we can get them vaccinated this week.

What is your least favorite part of your day? When I do not have a solution to a problem, which just means we have to search harder to find one. Fortunately, county staff does an excellent job at that.

What accomplishment are you the most proud of? The fact that I completely started a new life here in the Keys. And I have continued to just rise above each challenge. There have been many, I will say that. It has not been easy.

What about the Florida Keys makes you the happiest? A flat calm day on the water. My boyfriend and I have a boat, a Hydra-Sports.

What advice would you give to an ambitious young lady? Nothing is impossible.

What is your secret talent that no one knows about? I am an orchid whisperer. I never thought I had that talent at all, but I moved to a place that had orchids and I revived them all. I realized that maybe I do have a green thumb.

What was the last thing you ordered on Amazon? I don’t remember. Let me look really fast… (Looks at orders on device.) Ziplock bags! That’s so boring. (laughs)

Did you watch Bridgerton on Netflix? I watched three episodes. Not enough to draw me in.

What’s your perfect day at home? (Sighs) Sleeping in and ordering pizza. And going on that boat.

Here’s a truly controversial question: Brownies. With nuts or without? Without. Hands down.

Who would be your favorite dinner party attendants, living or dead? Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, and my boyfriend, Bill, who I would choose over any of the other people. He’s great. 

What is your favorite movie? Shawshank Redemption.

Where would you most like to go in the world? Rome.

Whom would you most like to meet? Stevie Nicks. And I’d like her to be at that dinner party as well (laughs).

Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.