My Congressman, Robert Hurt, had a recess in August, along with the rest of Congress. He decided not to have town hall meetings with all his constituents, but to drive down a highway in the extreme southern portion of the district, Route 58. To be fair, there was also a “Route 29 Tour” Where I live, Cumberland County, is on neither of those roads.
The previous Congressman in the 5th district, Tom Perriello, held 20 or 21 meetings with constituents in every corner of the district, both years he served. He genuinely wanted to listen and answer questions from citizens. Arguably this is a high bar set by Mr. Perriello.
Hurt’s official page from his House website details the places he stopped, and what was talked about. Wouldn’t you know it, everyone wanted to talk about the talking points of the Republican Party. Size of government, jobs, “grow the economy”, government regulations. You know, the litany of issues that supposedly defines this Congress and Rep. Hurt’s place in it.
The problem with what Rep. Hurt did is that large swaths of the 5th Congressional District went unvisited. Also, the visits were at restaurants, work sites, and other venues. No meetings took place with the Congressman and his constituents where one on one questions could be asked. No meetings where as many people wanted to could attend. It is a quite different situation to ask a question while standing around at a gas station restaurant and three people next to him.
I feel the spirit of what was supposed to be was tainted because of this action. In fact, several locations and counties had only the benefit of a staff member in a local library meeting room to ask questions of. The job of the Representative is to try to answer all questions, take on all comers, and to answer to the best of his abilities. Questions he might not want to hear could have been asked, ones that are no less important than the ones where he had a mostly friendly audience.
I am not suggesting that we as citizens lie in wait for the Congressman, far from it. But not everyone agrees with the direction of the current Congress. Some would like answers about things like why very few (less than ten certainly) bills about jobs have been brought before the House. At the same time, bills for changing laws and making new laws about a myriad of other subjects, mostly social policy have been brought up and voted on.
Even bills masquerading as economic help for workers out of work, deeply slanted to not benefit the workers, but the corporations that donate heavily to Congress members have been put forth.
I know abortion is a sensitive issue for lots of people, but do we really need a dozen laws restricting the rights of women to make their own medical decisions? The procedure is not against the law, but this Congress would like to change the laws to make things that way.
Robert Hurt has been content to go along to get along, using convenient sound bites and phrases to endear himself to those who voted for him and contributed to him. There is one problem with that however:
He represents all of us. Or at least he is supposed to.
I resent not being able to ask him a question that I want an answer to in front of my community. There are also many others who don’t like to stand up and ask questions, and when I ask one or two, maybe it was close to the question they would have asked.
Congressman Hurt needs to remember that he does represent all of us in this district. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and others. It is his job to communicate with us and if nothing else, for us to find out how he is doing. So far, I see none of that happening.
Is Robert Hurt scared to face ALL of his constituents?