By CATHY SECKMAN
WELLSVILLE -- In this river community, where there are 4,000 people and two stoplights, Candy Bangor seems like a typical housewife.
She, her husband, Don, and their 11-year-old daughter, Mollie, live in a massive 19th-century home that is in constant need of attention. They go to church, the grocery store, school events and cookouts like any other family.
Candy, a former pharmacy assistant, volunteers for the Republican Party. She does laundry and digs in the flower bed. But there's an interesting quirk to this family.
Just like Wonder Woman, Candy has another identity. Every few weeks she puts on a suit and hops a plane for the big city while Don and Mollie hold down the fort at home.
She works in Washington, D.C., for Lyle Williams, a former area congressman who owns a lobbying firm with his partner, Washington attorney Afsoun Kubinsman.
Background: It all started a few years ago, when Candy was working to stop a proposed prison in her hometown. She carried protest signs and attended meetings. At one of those, she met Williams, who was running for office.
He didn't win his primary, but afterward he offered Candy a job. "I was floored," Candy says.
"Why would he want me, with my high school education? I thought there was no way. I couldn't imagine myself in Washington. But Lyle asked me to come and see what they had to offer."
Candy's husband, Don, persuaded her to go -- "though he's probably sorry now" -- and she nervously boarded a plane.
Washington was a revelation. "I love D.C. It's my favorite place in the world. There's nothing like being on the hill. When I see Newt Gingrich or Bill Thomas, I'm awed. The Supreme Court justices are my heroes.
"There are still people in government who are there because they want to make a difference. They're in there with the right motives. I feel about politicians the way other people feel about Madonna."
Just after Candy took the job, Williams was asked to become the executive director for one of his clients, the National Association of Sub-acute and Post-acute Care.
"NASPAC is an association of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Mostly, I work for them."
What she does: She is a seminar administrator, organizing and overseeing NASPAC events around the country. "I did something like 14 seminars between March and August." When she first took the job, neither she nor Don expected so much travel.
"It was a big adjustment, and we didn't know if it was going to work. Don felt like a single parent, and I felt guilty. I'd be sitting in a hotel room by myself, feeling alone. I'd call home and Mollie wouldn't have much to say. She'd be busy going on with her own life. Then Don would get on the phone and say, 'Everything's fine, we're doing great, have fun.' I'd be devastated because they were getting along so well without me.
"Then I'd want to just walk back into their lives, but Don and Mollie are so close. It takes about 24 hours to fit back in."
Candy lives in two separate worlds. "On one hand I have a fantasy life. I'm traveling all over the country, living in extravagant hotels, having friends who wouldn't know Don and Mollie if they saw them on the street. On the other hand, I have my home life. This is my real world. This is where my heart and my home and my family are.
"I'm so lucky to have the best of both. I'm getting to do things I never thought I'd do. But I also get to come home to Wellsville, where my family and friends are safe, and there's no anthrax in the mail."
Giving credit: She credits her husband with making it possible. "I couldn't do this if it weren't for Don. He thinks I don't need him as much, because I'm more independent now, but actually I need him more. He's always there for Mollie, and I never worry."
Striking a balance between home and work is still hard. Candy's life with Don has changed. Sometimes she feels distant from Mollie, and that worries her.
"I always have a choice. I can quit and be here, or I can keep my job and try to work through it. Mollie and I have had some good talks lately, and she realizes how important this is to me. I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can."