Covington | Maple Valley Reporter
A town-hall meeting hosted by 47th Legislative District lawmakers in Covington topped the three-hour mark Saturday as more than 100 people assembled to discuss everything from education to health care to jobs and the latest from the 2012 legislative session.
The gathering at Cutters Point Coffee was scheduled to last from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. However, Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn and Reps. Pat Sullivan and Mark Hargrove of Covington ended up staying well after 2 p.m. to make sure everyone’s concerns and ideas were heard.
“I was pleased with the turnout and really enjoyed having the opportunity to listen to our constituents. It was a great setting for conversation, and more than three hours flew by before we knew it,” said Fain. “Throughout the year I interact with many people in our district at community meetings, via email, on the phone and through the mail, and that communication is essential to my work in Olympia. However, nothing can match the experience of an old-fashioned town hall, where individuals from all backgrounds and points of view can express themselves and challenge their elected leaders. I’m grateful to all those who came out and engaged in such an in-depth and respectful discussion.
“Maintaining this type of communication gives me and constituents a better understanding of each other’s priorities and concerns. It is encouraging to see how many people are not only interested in state government, but are involved in becoming citizen advocates.”
“Democracy works best when people participate, not just observe,” said Sullivan, the Majority Leader in the House. “It was invigorating for me to feel the enthusiasm in the crowd and to see the respectful and civil way the people of our district treated one another – even those with whom they disagreed.”
“I was really happy to see wide variety of folks from the district,” said Hargrove. “There were those who were there on behalf of education organizations and individuals on their own. There were those who came to ask questions and those who wanted to share their own views. There were those who wanted to speak and those who just wanted to listen. And of course, there were those with strong feelings on both sides of various issues. I am proud to represent a community that can come together in this type of setting and engage in such worthwhile discussion. I hope everyone knows that I’m always available to continue the discussion, whether it’s in Olympia, a community event, or even Saturday afternoon at Costco.”
After each legislator gave a brief opening statement, the town hall focused on fielding questions, first in a group setting and later during one-on-one conversations.
The 60-day regular legislative session will end March 8.