WASHINGTON — Residents will be able to have a chat with state representatives and senators this Saturday as the Washington Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first of a series of three legislative briefings.
Michelle Redlinger, Executive Director of the Chamber, said the first briefing will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. in the courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse. The next two will follow in February and March. Rep. Jared Klein (R-Keota), Rep. Joe Mitchell (R-Wayland), Sen. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) and Sen. Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford) will all be in attendance.
She said the morning will begin with each politician giving a brief description of what they are working on then a microphone will be passed to every individual in attendance. They will then be given the opportunity to ask questions of their own and address each directly.
“We just go around the room and try to give everyone a fair shot of asking a question so that way we can get some personal dialogue flowing and let them know the concerns and issues that are facing our community,” she said.
The briefings have been a long-standing tradition for Washington the chamber hosts. She said the chamber is a non-partisan organization that organizes the event in support of its goal to create an open path for communication between constituents and legislators.
“Our goal legislatively is to make sure that the community is informed, provide opportunities for people to have a voice and for our legislators to have an opportunity to connect with the community,” she said.
Redlinger said a legislative committee exists within the chamber and is responsible for hosting these forums as well as ones for contested races locally. The goal of these forums is to allow community members to connect with legislators and for legislators to connect with constituents to the best of its ability.
Before becoming the director eight years ago, Redlinger said she did not attend any of these forums. But since that time, she said she has learned a lot and feels community members can also learn from talking with them.
“I have learned a lot by attending these sessions. I know everyone has their own circle of influence but what I’ve learned through these is how they all become interconnected. I really think our elected officials are trying to do the best that they can,” she said.