Townhall: for the youngfolks too!

I attended my very first townhall meeting last Saturday, and event at Seattle Community College with the 43rd Legislative District Senator Jamie Pedersen, House Speaker Frank Chopp, Representative Brady Walkinshaw. It was an exhilarating. Instead of having the opportunity to speak with just one state official, I could have had the opportunity to speak to 3 of them at once!

Attending this meeting felt like a stepping stone to a more assertive, policy-saavy Stevie Koepp. I don’t consider myself a very political person, but have had a sense since entering my graduate studies that there is a lot of value in listening and being heard when it counts.

The townhall format really appealed to me. There many opportunities to listen and learn about legislation—through handouts describing the budget, individual bills, and the politician’s responses to other people’s questions. Upon entering the building, I was informed that each town hall handles questions a little differently—the format of this meeting required people to submit questions on a 3×5 notecard. These notecards were read by an administrative assistant.

Over the 1.5 hours that the meeting lasted, the group made our way through several topics, ranging from water pollution to sick and safe leave. It was interesting to see how the crowd reacted to various statements, dependent on their agreement or disagreement. Seems that the townhall meeting would be a very effective tool for getting large amounts of feedback from a very diverse group of people all at once.

Sadly, my question was not brought up as one of the topics for response. I did manage to speak directly with Jamie Pedersen’s administrative assistant and supplied my contact information along with inquiry to be passed on to the Senator.

My inquiry is in response to the Transportation 2015-17 Budget/ HB 1299—I am concerned about the amount of funding going into highway widening projects compared to that funding mass transit services.

Verbiage describing “clogged” sections of highway justifies “solutions” to transit slugishness by funding additional lanes for personal vehicles. Despite evidence that widening a highway does not relieve traffic, the rational for funding these projects remains flawed and consistent.

I’m already looking forward to attending my next townhall meeting.


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