Town Hall Friday provides a golden opportunity for the community

Last spring, Rep. Greg Walden took some heat for what some perceived as town halls too few and too far between.

In May and June, Walden held numerous public meetings throughout the northern counties of his huge Second District: towns such as Fossil, Moro, Condon and others. Walden, who frequently returns to his hometown of Hood River, held a June 8 town hall here in Pine Grove, which this newspaper attended but admittedly under-reported.

Walden is certainly starting the new year right with a long list of town halls this week, including Monday’s in The Dalles and another Friday in Hood River (details on page A1).

Friday’s town hall represents a prime opportunity for community members to hear from Walden and let him know their concerns.

The federal debt and the “fiscal cliff” Congressional deal, defense spending and gun control are among the major issues Walden is facing at his town halls, as witnessed by questions raised in Monday’s event in The Dalles.

Just as important are Walden’s efforts to support farm labor reform and his pursuit of innovative ways to safeguard forest health while creating jobs. Walden will discuss other efforts to provide tax relief for Oregon families and small businesses and help develop the economy.

Between the November election and the recent fiscal cliff debate, the U.S. Congress has recently had as high a profile as ever, giving voters plenty to ask their elected officials about.

We don’t have much experience with other national legislators’ public gatherings, so it’s hard to compare, but what we have observed at Walden’s events (as well as those with Sen. Ron Wyden) is a definite bipartisan spirit.

This comes from the Congressman as well as his constituency, be they Republicans, Democrats or any other affiliation.

The town halls are positive forums; the local venue, Hood River Valley Adult Center, has plenty of room.

Past town halls have been held at varying times, including Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, but this one, at 8-9 a.m. Friday, is nearly ideal, coming at the start of a working day.

If you can make it, this is the time to listen, learn and speak up as a federal legislator spends a morning in his own neighborhood.

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