The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


February 7, 2014

Lawmakers invite local residents to Saturday's legislative coffee

CLINTON — Three Iowa legislators will join the people of Clinton on Saturday to discuss some of the areas most relative political topics over a hot cup of coffee.

A Legislative Coffee Session will take place at 9 a.m. at the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce in Clinton, where attendees will have the opportunity to meet with state legislators Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland; Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton; and Rep. Steve Olson, R-DeWitt.

“As long as we can remember here, we’ve always tried to provide a place where people can get in touch with their legislators and express some of the concerns they have,” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Sondgeroth said. “One of the unique aspects of living in Iowa is how close you can get to your legislator and hear what’s going on coming directly from their mouths.”

Some of the topics expected to be discussed Saturday such as the state gas tax, mental health reorganization and allowable growth in schools are just the tip of the iceberg for state legislators who anticipate they will hear many concerns from the residents of Clinton County.

This is the way it should be, according to Wolfe.

It is her hope that Saturday will draw out a new group of people who she’d like to see get more involved with local and statewide politics.

“The audience decides where the conversation goes,” Wolfe said. “They can ask anything they want and that doesn’t happen very often so I think it would be great to see a more diverse population at this forum, asking more diverse questions.”

Although the forum is driven by audience participation, the legislators will have an opportunity to update visitors on the legislative session in Des Moines, highlighting some of the topics they are pushing for in the coming months.

And while some of those topics may not be agreed upon by the three legislators, Hart is optimistic that they will all be bringing a positive message about the progress of Iowa to Saturday’s event.

“I think that we all need to be a bit positive. Iowa, when we compare ourselves to other states and we look at the progress that we’ve made, I think we should be happy,” Hart said. “Of course there are some big issues that are going to be a challenge to us but any time you have money in the bank and a good prognosis in the future, I think we have to take a breath and realize that we’re in good shape.”

In order to maintain that positive outlook on the state, each legislator agrees that it is important to stay in touch and in close alliance with the constituents they represent, which is why all three are happy to attend the legislative forum.

“I think it gives us a chance to look at the concerns that many of the locals have,” Olson said. “And, while I think many of them are pretty general, I think we need to look at the overall concerns, than looking at one in particular. I think we need to hear all the concerns of the people.”


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