Do you know that Representative Bob Goodlatte’s local staff has regular “open door meetings” for area constituents in several communities? Here’s a link to the schedule: http://goodlatte.house.gov/constituent-services/open-door-meetings.htm. Here’s what happened when I went to one of these meetings recently.
I dropped by the Grottoes Town Hall and spent an hour speaking to Debbie Garrett, District Director for the Congressman, who works in the Staunton office. I gave her a one-pager of talking points and then covered the gist of them through a very cordial conversation. Because there was no one else there, she and I had plenty of time to “just chat”.
I began with a “Thank you” for the Congressman’s recent support of federal legislation to provide funding for the mental ill (one of my personal interests). After that, I mentioned that I had looked at the web site, seeking to understand Mr. Goodlatte’s position on environmental matters. I pointed out that, despite specific items touting his support of and actions about fossil fuel energy matters, I found nothing about renewable energy (RE) or energy efficiency (EE), even though the web site says he belongs to the RE and EE Caucus. And I commented specifically on the absence of his positions on the importance of conserving natural resources or of addressing the realities of climate change. I added that, while I don’t know whether he believes that climate disruption is at least partly the result of human activities, I do believe that, as a representative in a state whose coastline and other areas are experiencing negative effects from the changing climate, he should at the very least understand and promote ways to mitigate their risks to VA, which I see as matters of fact and not conjecture.
Because our discussion was not very time-constrained, I was also able to tell Debbie about the Congressman’s constituents’ interest in solar energy, as evidenced by the many solar co-ops that have happened in the 6th District since spring 2014. I also noted the economic benefits to VA that can result from greater use of solar power. I made the point that the interest in and desire for RE options is NOT partisan. Neither is the desire for clean air, access to clean, safe drinking water, and protection of land and its resources, property rights, and the freedom to choose one’s energy sources.
Finally, I shared with Debbie the gist of what I wanted and expected the Congressman to do (my “asks”). I list them below.
- Demonstrate Commitment to and Leadership for increased RE and EE to promote jobs that are stable, non‑outsourceable, and well-paying.
- Join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
- Work with groups such as RepublicEn, headed by former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis.
- Hold Town Hall Meetings allowing real dialogue between the Congressman and his constituents (Last minute telephone conference calls do not accomplish this.).
- Support Fee and Dividend legislation that provides a market-driven way to reduce US dependence on fossil fuels and is revenue-neutral.
My visit with Debbie was a good experience and I found her to be a good listener. I plan to go again.
– Joy Loving, February 2017
Joy is member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.
Please note that Congressman Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office is open most weekdays if you don’t want to wait for an “open door” meeting:
70 North Mason Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Phone: (540) 432-2391