116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - It's unlikely any minds were changed, but in an effort to promote civil discourse, Iowa 1st Congressional District Democrats took the unusual step of inviting Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson to speak to their quarterly meeting over the weekend.
'She is the representative of everyone in the district, including Democrats,” said Catherine Crist of Cedar Rapids, chairwoman of the 1st District Democratic Central Committee. 'It's important for 1st District Democrats to hear from her and for her to have opportunity to address us.”
Obviously, she added, there are differences that one conversation won't bridge, 'but given the polarizing dynamics in Washington, I think unity is very important in terms of being able to find middle ground.”
Crist believes the invitation by a Democratic committee to hear from a Republican member of Congress is unprecedented. She hopes that next time there will be an opportunity to ask Hinson questions.
Hinson, a Marion resident who defeated Abby Finkenauer, a first-term Democrat, in 2020, appreciated the opportunity.
'I represent everyone in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, not just those who supported me, and it is important for me to be accessible to all of my constituents,” Hinson said.
'Too often we don't engage with people we disagree with on politics or policy, and I think that is a major reason why our civil discourse has become so heated and divisive. While we may have significant differences of opinion on many issues, there is a lot we can unite on as Iowans and Americans.”
The reaction from her committee was positive when Crist proposed inviting Hinson to join them virtually.
'People felt that was a good idea, that the tone in Washington doesn't really represent us here in Iowa, in the 1st District ... and I think folks were just interested as to whether or not she would accept the invitation,” Crist said.
Hinson spoke by phone for about 13 minutes about her first couple of months in Congress, how to contact her district staff and some of the issues she's working on.
While acknowledging 'there are issues where you and I disagree,” Hinson highlighted her efforts made with 3rd District U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and other Democratic House members.
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