I support the recent Columbian editorial lamenting Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s, R-Camas, unwillingness to expose herself to the questions and comments of her constituents via appropriately announced town hall meetings. This failure is sadly not limited to her, but is becoming a common problem with many of our legislators, Republican and Democrat alike.
I attended her town hall at Skyview High earlier this year. It was raucous — without question — but that’s the nature of American politics today. I was part of a MoveOn.org informational picket before the meeting, holding a sign calling for strengthening and expanding Medicare. All my fellow picketers were respectful of the attendees, not heckling or returning the occasional insults thrown at us. Despite Herrera Beutler’s lengthy and questionable presentation, many balanced questions and concerns on both sides of various issues were brought forth by the attendees. That’s what town halls are for.
I believe most people want to be civil and simply want their concerns heard. By meeting only with select, favorable groups like the Rotarians, or dropping in on people who are unprepared to voice their concerns, Herrera Beutler does a disservice to all of us, and only encourages more demonstrative attempts to be heard.