Parker’s themed town halls a ‘great success,’ but ‘just the beginning’
Despite excitement over the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ NCAA championship game the same day, more than 150 people in total turned out to meet with Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, at three different town halls on Saturday, March 21.
Parker said it was a great opportunity for him as a freshman to get feedback from his constituents face-to-face, and to learn more about the issues.
“My goal with having three town halls was to go to where people are, rather than expecting them to come to me,” Parker said. “I wanted to get an in-depth discussion about the struggles my constituents face and their ideas for revitalizing our state.”
About 30 people at the business town hall heard Parker explain the current budget and economic situation. Parker then turned the mic to the audience, asking them how they felt the state could better serve employers and create jobs. People shared frustrations with the business and occupation tax as well as state regulations. Parker also invited two speakers, Larry Condon and Logan Olson, to discuss their innovative business ideas and successes.
“Though our economic situation doesn’t look good right now, I look forward to what we can achieve in the future and how we can make Spokane, and Washington, a more friendly place to do business,” Parker said.
The second town hall at Catholic Charities was also a time for Parker to listen. About 100 people – homeless and not homeless – from around the community, attended the event.
A representative from United Way spoke about opportunities for working tax credits and an employee at Catholic Charities discussed affordable housing. Parker opened up the rest of the time to hear the stories of homeless people who told him they struggle to get ahead in life. One person, homeless herself, encouraged others to find ways to help themselves, rather than relying on someone else to help.
Parker said he was asked by a local TV station why he was hosting a town hall about poverty.
“The state should take care of its most vulnerable,” Parker said. “This includes people with mental health conditions and serious disabilities. We don’t need a tax increase to provide critical services. Organizations like Catholic Charities are a critical community-based resources in these difficult times.”
At the afternoon forum for educators, Parker discussed the recently passed HB 2261 and what it means for education. He asked the 30-some teachers and administrators to share their hurdles with providing a good education for their students, and what they think the state needs to do.
“I heard loud and clear that there is simply too much long-distance decision-making from Olympia,” Parker said. “Teachers change lives, and I want to be an advocate for educators. That means giving them the tools to succeed. One administrator told me the Legislature needs to make budget decisions now so the schools can plan for next fall.”
Parker said the day was a ‘great success’ with good attendance and involvement from constituents, but he said it was just the beginning.
“My hope is that these town halls will encourage more people to get involved in the issues they care about and create coalitions to work on these issues with me,” Parker said.
Rep. Parker speaks to teachers, administrators and constituents at the educators’ forum, March 21, 2009.
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###Washington State House Republican Communications