Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Local Meetings Let Your Voice Be Heard

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Local Meetings Let Your Voice Be Heard

Article excerpt

So an attorney, a former small business owner, an educator, two Realtors and a retired union trucker walked into a library on a springlike Saturday morning. While that might sound like the introduction to a bar joke, it was serious business: Citizen governance in action, the first of four planned Meet Your Legislators sessions at which area residents can bring their concerns directly to area state government representatives.

A week ago Saturday at the Browning Room in Evansville's Central Library, those concerns were presented throughout a 1-hour, 45- minute session - and in one-on-one interaction with legislators both before and after the scheduled time - with an audience of around 200.

State representatives Tom Washburne, Suzanne Crouch, Wendy McNamara and Gail Riecken, along with state senators Vaneta Becker and Jim Tomes, took part in the first session. All but Riecken are Republicans, though to the group's credit there didn't seem to be much politicking going on.

They heard a single father's plea to change parental visitation rights so that he could spend more time with his child.

They were asked about education reform and vouchers by a teacher, and invited EVSC School Superintendent David Smith to the microphone to help clarify some issues.

They fielded a complaint about property taxes (with Becker, a Realtor, suggesting an appeal of the assessment).

They heard a grandmother, forced to press theft charges against a troubled grandchild, tearfully plead for them and the community to join together to fight drug abuse. They were asked to be aware of issues that particularly affect women. And they promised to see what they could do to help fund repairs of crumbling county roads that make for dangerous trips for volunteer fire department trucks, and to make a blind intersection safer.

All of those were individual issues. There also was an organized demand by a group to protect the rights of gun owners which, the legislators correctly answered, already are protected by the state.

And with the exception of a couple of rude shouts from the back, it all was conducted with civility as WNIN's Micah Schweizer served as the sometimes funny, sometimes stern moderator. …

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