[Letter by Roger Ledbetter – Snoqualmie, WA. Views expressed are those of the author, not the Living Snoqualmie website. You may submit letters of support for your candidate to firstname.lastname@example.org]
Informed dialogue is vital to the health of democracy. Townhalls give constituents the chance to stay current with what their Representative is working on, voice concerns, ask questions, and holding their Congressperson accountable.
In 2018, I volunteered for two endorsement committees interviewing candidates for the 8th Congressional District (8th CD). Both groups were disgusted by our previous Representative’s refusal to hold town halls, and both demanded the candidates commit to holding public meetings. Dr. Kim Schrier promised she would.
Representative Dr. Schrier has exceeded my wildest expectations on meeting with constituents. On January 22 nd and 24th, 2020, Congresswoman Schrier held town halls in Auburn and Cle Elum. At the time, covid-19 hadn’t hit, and it turned out those were two of her last in-person public meetings. When social distancing became necessary, Schrier adapted by holding online zoom meetings; she calls “Coffees.” Presently, Dr. Schrier has held 29 in-person town halls and 38 “zoom-coffees” for a total of 67 public meetings with constituents. That’s about 3 a month.
The 8th CD stretches from Auburn to Lake Chelan, with the Cascades representing a political as well as geographical divide. Schrier holds town halls in both “blue” and “red” areas in the 8th CD, demonstrating her commitment to hearing from conservative and liberal constituents to represent both as best as possible.
While campaigning, Dr. Schrier said she wanted to help heal polarization by working in a bi-partisan manner. At both townhalls I attended, Dr. Schrier fielded questions from hostile constituents. I was amazed to watch her negotiate these mine fields with grace and respect. Her challengers knew they had been heard, even if not always agreed with.
During her first term in Congress, Representative Schrier has worked with Republican lawmakers to pass several bills. With Republican Herrera Beutler, she introduced a bill to provide fruit and vegetables to children who aren’t in school. To represent the agricultural areas of her district, Schrier joined the Agriculture Committee. With Republican Morris Rogers, Schrier worked on a bill ensuring the availability of agricultural guest workers. Republican Newhouse and Schrier collaborated to keep research money, for Washington’s specialty crops, in this year’s farm bill. The Seattle Times says Schrier has been a “reliable ally for farmers.”
The attempt to paint Schrier as radical-left is not born out by the facts. In the House, she joined the business-friendly New Democrats Coalition. Rather than de-funding the police, she wants to see greater investments in addressing the underlying causes of crime like addiction and homelessness.
Healthcare, prescription drug costs, gun violence, climate change, and corruption were campaign issues close to her heart. She has, in fact, worked on all of these issues.
As Co-Chair of the New Democrats Healthcare Committee, she co-sponsored a bill offering a public-option like Medicaid, which she thinks is better than Medicare. Explaining Americans pay 3-4 times what Germans pay for medications, her committee passed HR-3, allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical corporations for an estimated savings of $500,000,000,000 in ten years. Another bill enhances Medicare to cover vision and dental. Expressing grief at seeing children needlessly suffering from preventable diseases, she is currently working on a bill to combat vaccines’ misinformation. Schrier said many diabetics aren’t able to afford the insulin they need (costs have gone up 300% in 10years), so she is working on legislation to bring insulin costs down.
Gun violence is another issue close to Schrier’s heart. Suicide is a leading cause of death among teenagers and guns the leading method. Warning signs in children get overlooked because kids present differently. By noticing these symptoms, Schrier said she had saved at least one life. (At a previous town hall, there had been a very emotional moment. A young woman had disclosed she had planned suicide, but an intervention from Dr. Schrier had saved her life.) Schrier plans to introduce a bill requiring guns to be stored safely to prevent impulsive teenage suicides. Also, House Democrats passed a bill requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
She proudly reported Democrats passed HR-1, a multi-faceted anti-corruption bill. This bill requires the purchasers of political advertisements to identify themselves; it addresses gerrymandering and allows voters’ candidate-donations to be matched by 600%. The money comes from corporation penalties, not taxes.
Schrier also serves on the Education Committee. There she is working on a bill to create an apprenticeship/training program so people can learn marketable skills. She is also advocating for preschools.
At both town halls, there were questions from the audience about Trump’s cuts to food stamps. Ardently she responded, “This is the wrong place to cut. Certain investments are just so, so worthwhile. They’re worth many times what we invest in them. Things like food, housing, education, and those are places where I’m going to bat for the 8th District because it doesn’t serve us for people to be hungry. Hungry workers are not better workers, hungry workers get sick more often, and hungry children don’t do well in school. This makes good, common sense.”
When a brilliant woman, whose heart is in the right place, runs for Congress because she wants to help heal and improve our community, when she is elected, and when that woman proves her authenticity by following through with what she promised …well… if it “ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” I agree with the Seattle Times recommendation that Dr. Kim Schrier receives a second term.