Many of us wanted to speak with our senators and representatives recently, so when Sen. Joni Ernst’s home page announced a veterans’ roundtable in Maquoketa, we called her Cedar Rapids office which assured us that everyone could attend and ask questions. More than 300 people attended, many more than the room would hold, but only veterans were allowed to speak.
Veterans’ panels are important, but constituents with similarly critical concerns (over the future of their access to health care, quality education, a livable planet, a free press and more) are just as deserving of a sympathetic hearing from the senator and direct indications of how she will work to create solutions for Iowans. We were misled about this meeting.
Sen. Ernst sympathized with veterans, but didn’t have much else to offer and after 44 minutes she left, avoiding everyone else.
On the following day, no one answered phones in Ernst’s Cedar Rapids office. I have received three different accounts of why. Sen. Ernst does not appear willing to answer questions from her constituents; if I were a Republican office holder, I wouldn’t want to either, but she is supposed to be representing us. Even this is better than Rep. Rod Blum, who has scheduled no meetings during the recess, but promises (someday) to hold a town-hall meeting that will be “the biggest and the best.”