As of Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Where is Walden?
The question, often repeated one year ago, needs repeating.
Why does Hood River County hear so little from Rep. Greg Walden?
As opb.org’s Jeff Mapes recently reported, “Just as Donald Trump rose to the presidency, Walden was taking over the chairmanship of one of the most powerful committees in Congress. The reach of the House Energy and Commerce committee is huge — ranging from health care to the internet to the electrical grid. Colleagues treat Walden with a certain deference and lobbyists flock to his fundraisers.”
But it has now been one year since Walden’s last public appearance in Hood River — and it had been a full year before that one, a begrudging adherence to his own vow to hold such a gathering annually in each county.
Walden treated the 2017 event as if he had to get a root canal done. It took real pulling to get him to consent to it. After calls from numerous quarters to schedule it, he relented, and finally came to Hood River to hear from his constituents.
Yet at this writing, no 2018 town hall is on Walden’s busy schedule, nor any other local public presence.
Walden has all but discontinued initiating any contact with the newspaper of record in his own home town.
(In January, this newspaper was given about three hours’ notice to attend a telephone conference interview on the Children’s Health Insurance Program.)
Walden vaunted “great wins” for Oregon in a press conference March 26 that this newspaper was not formally notified of. We published the story, written originally for The Dalles Chronicle (Greater Gorge, Hood River News, page A2, April 4).
But the main issue is: no town hall. Inquiries last week received terse responses.
“When we schedule our town hall meetings, I will be sure to notify you in advance,” his communications director, Justin Discigil, said in an email.
Just as in 2017, Walden has much to answer for in a face-to-face with the hundreds who we can expect to turn out to a faint-in-the-future town hall including his role in the Trumpcare legislation, net neutrality (or lack thereof, as he would have it), DACA renewal and immigration reform in general, and his virtual silence on gun violence.
We understand he is a busy man, and an important one, and that he responds to individual constituent inquiries and has held “telephone town halls” (an interaction of limited value in terms of raising public discourse).
Mapes also reported that Walden’s “powerful chairmanship helped him raise $2.5 million in campaign donations in the first nine months of 2017. That’s more than the four other members of the Oregon House delegation combined.”
So Walden has both wielded power and yielded money from that power.
And yet he continues to effectively avoid his constituents in Hood River County, at a time when people need to hear from him. He is collecting re-election money, but not much re-election input, from his home county voters. And he owes it to those voters, as the May 15 Primary fast approaches.
We call upon Walden to immediately schedule a public town hall, preferably in the spacious Hood River Middle School Auditorium, and to do so by May 1, by which time we will all have received our ballots in the mail.