Town hall will go on, with or without Walden

On April 8, constituents from Oregon’s Second Congressional District will attend a town hall to bring forward their concerns about issues affecting them and their neighbors.

Typically, town halls are organized by government representatives in order for them to listen to the concerns of the people who elected them. But this town hall, to be held in Hood River, is different. This time, seven local organizations, whose membership represents a significant slice of Rep. Walden’s district, are organizing this meeting. Not only has Rep. Walden not organized the town hall, he has no plans to attend.

In early February, leaders of nine Gorge-area organizations, who represent a broad spectrum of interests, wrote to Greg Walden asking for a meeting and requesting a Town Hall in order for him to hear and respond to their concerns.

We asked for dialogue with Rep. Walden. “We want this to be an opportunity for you to hear our concerns and questions, and for us to hear your responses. You hold a powerful leadership position and we are hopeful that we can establish an ongoing dialogue on ways you can support all of us living in your district,” our letter stated.

We sent our letter via both email and certified mail. To our surprise and disappointment, Congressman Walden never responded.

In addition to this lack of response, hundreds of Gorge-area constituents report getting no response to their attempts to contact Rep. Walden’s various offices, either by telephone, fax, website email, or letters, to voice their views, and ask for his response. Phone lines at his D.C. and district offices usually roll over to voicemail, and sometimes the voicemail is full. Incredibly, district office staff routinely state that they do not know or are not able to divulge Mr. Walden’s in-district schedule.

In light of Rep. Walden’s appalling lack of accessibility and responsiveness, we are creating our own public forum for constituents to air their concerns and questions. Our hope is that the press will cover the event. In addition, we will collect both verbal and written questions, comments, and personal stories, and deliver these to Rep. Walden.

Democracy only works when representatives listen to their constituents. What we don’t need is another Washington, D.C.-based representative who has lost contact with his base of support.

Vawter (Buck) Parker, retired Non Governmental Organization director, Odell

Bonnie New, retired physician, Hood River

Michael Ballinger, business owner, The Dalles

Donna Henderson, business owner, Maupin

Claire Sierra and Josiah Dean, business owners, Dufur

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