Time to meet the voters!
Freshman Congressman Gary Peters, the Democrat who beat long-serving Republican Joe Knollenberg in the race to represent the 9th District of Michigan last November, is coming home every weekend — and getting an earful of feedback from his constituents in the process!
Oakland County residents have entrusted me to be their advocate in Washington. Effectively representing our communities requires ongoing communication. I believe that a Member of Congress should do more listening than talking. That’s why I am holding listening sessions throughout Oakland County to provide an opportunity for me to hear directly from local residents. –Gary Peters
More on this event, cranky old dudes, and a couple of photos, after the jump . . .
We had the chance to attend one of Peters’ “Congress on Your Corner” events last week, and left impressed. Originally meant to be an opportunity for his constituents to meet with him one-on-one, the event quickly was transformed into an impromptu town hall meeting when the turnout exceeded expectations (at one point, there were more than sixty attendees, crowding into Northwood Credit Union in Royal Oak).
Peters began his remarks by speaking about the economy, the auto industry (Chrysler’s headquarters are located in his district), and the stimulus package. Then, he turned the floor over to his constituents, and they were a feisty bunch! The crowd included an unemployed woman looking for a new marketing job, retired auto workers, a college student, local politicians (shout out to Dave Woodward!), bloggers (hello, Frank Versagi and, ahem, moi), and a disproportionately loud group of cranky old guys who are VERY opposed to bailouts.
The Congressman did a great job fielding the questions. The session started out a bit tense, with some audience members calling each other out when they disagreed with their positions, but it felt like a very important civic event. This was not a room filled with people who agreed with each other on everything, and the topics spanned a wide variety of issues — including the economy, immigration, gay rights, the environment, and the defense budget. Peters let people have their say and then gave his answers. He was noticeably cautious on some issues, and very confident on others (including those related to his work on the Financial Services Committee). Staff members were also on hand to meet with citizens one on one to hear their concerns.
We hope that Peters will hold more of these events and that the turn out will be just as strong. It’s a great way for the Congressman to hear about what his constituents’ priorities are — and for his constituents to learn about what is going on in DC.
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