Our view: Come back, Cory, we miss you | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Come back, Cory, we miss you

At issue: The trend toward members of Congress shunning town hall meetings to avoid sometimes boisterous criticism Our view: There’s a better way to do this — local political parties and members of Congress and the Senate could adopt the successful format of election forums to bring them closer to their constituents again Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Jim Patterson, evening editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Beth Melton, community representative • Paul Weiss, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

In the wake of the dust-up regarding U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s recent visit to Routt County, we find ourselves regretting the current state of affairs between members of Congress and their constituents that is limiting constituents’ direct access to their elected officials.

The senator missed a luncheon with Routt County Republicans and, in the process, also missed a group of sign-waving constituents who had gathered outside the meeting place to protest some of Gardner’s political stances.

We don’t need to re-visit the details, but we do want to encourage Sen. Gardner to return to Steamboat Springs under different circumstances.

Call-in meetings are well and good when Congress and the Senate are in session, but when a member of Congress or the Senate makes a swing through one of the counties in their district and feels the need to avoid public forums, something is amiss.

We are quick to acknowledge that, in 2017, Republican senators and members of Congress have faced some disrespectful crowds. We don’t condone that. On the other hand, our representatives in Washington D.C. signed up for a tough job that calls for them to respond directly to their constituents. When citizens perceive they don’t have direct access to those officials, they feel shut out of the Democratic process.

Rather than play the blame game, we would like to offer an alternative. Our nation, our state and our county have been able to navigate many contentious elections and still host bi-partisan campaign debates without the amount of dissatisfaction and disconnect we’ve experienced in the spring and summer of 2017.

It’s ironic that the Routt County Democrats and Republicans have been able to collaborate with this newspaper on election forums that have allowed voters to submit and get answers to their questions directly from the politicians, both incumbents and challengers.

People of all political persuasions sit down without necessarily knowing, or needing to know, the leanings of the person seated next to them. A moderator addresses a number of questions to the candidates, crafted to bring out their positions on the issues, and they are asked to respond within a finite amount of time.

The forums always achieve a respectful tone.

Granted, it’s virtually unheard of for our representatives in Washington to show up for a forum in a community as small as Routt County/Steamboat Springs. We understand the urgency to cover the large geographic regions they represent and the desire to reach as many people as possible drives their campaign strategies.

But outside the election process, we have to think that local political officials, together, with this newspaper, could facilitate public forums outside the election cycle that would make it comfortable for our elected officials to stand up in front of a live audience in Routt County and explain their positions and votes without concern that they would be shouted down.

We have faith that’s not who Routt County Democrats, Republicans, members of smaller political parties and unaffiliated voters are.

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