Let me tell you about last week’s Town Meeting with Carolyn Long.
I sort of felt like I had made her up. You know… fantasized a person who could be the perfect candidate to run for office against our current representative to Congress. And there she was last Saturday in Ilwaco — Carolyn Long at a town meeting talking to 40 or 50 of us, not only answering our questions but explaining some of the whys and wherefores about our broken system of checks and balances!
She began with a quick description of her background: grew up in rural America in a family that sometimes had to seek public assistance to get by; dropped out of school in 7th grade when she was needed to work in the family fruit stand for a while; went on to get her doctorate degree in political science and has been teaching for 23 years as a professor at WSU, Vancouver — classes in American institutions, public law, American public policy and public civility. (OMG! She’s a living fairy-tale-come-true!)
Then, Carolyn… but wait! Did I say that as we were seating ourselves in the meeting room at the Ilwaco Library, she walked up to each person, shook hands, introduced herself and asked our names? Throughout the 90-minute meeting, she called on those who raised their hands — by name! We all felt a personal connection by the time the meeting was over. Before she began that question and answer period, though, she told about her reasons for running for this office. (Yep! I made her up!)
I was delighted to hear her say that first and foremost, she was running to unseat Jaime Herrera Beutler. I had felt a little guilty that I had voted for Carolyn in the primary for that very reason without even knowing much what she stood for. Turns out, my instincts were absolutely right! Keeping and bolstering Social Security and Medicaid, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, reforming our tax structure, supporting affordable education for all whether we are college-bound or not, revamping the rules under which Congress has been operating so that across-the-aisle cooperation is again possible — every issue, one that we angst about every day. (Wow! I definitely imagined her into reality!)
Oh — and did I say that she opened the meeting by talking about the attention the Chinook Observer articles (my “Stories from the Heart” series) had brought to the Hispanic crisis? And she also mentioned that she had just met with people of our shellfish industry and expressed her concern about the burrowing shrimp catastrophe and the consequences to the community as a whole if that situation cannot be solved. Soon. (Talk about bonding! As I listened to those remarks, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who felt that Carolyn Long actually knew and cared about our little corner of the state.)
No matter which side of that aisle you gravitate toward, I hope you will avail yourself of any upcoming opportunity to meet Carolyn. She’s young. She’s informed. She has practical ideas about fixing our democratic process so it will work again. We need to make Carolyn Long a key part of a happily ever after conversation by electing her to Congress. (And, so you can see for yourself that I didn’t make her up, check out her website: www.electlong.com/about.