ELECTION 2020

Ashley Hinson seeks 'real-world' input as she prepares for congressional role

Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson speaks with journalists Nov. 4 at her Cedar Rapids campaign office. The Marion Republi
Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson speaks with journalists Nov. 4 at her Cedar Rapids campaign office. The Marion Republican is forming constituent advisory groups to give her “real-world” feedback on issues she’ll face in Congress. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Continuing a practice she started as a member of the Iowa Legislature, Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson is forming constituent advisory groups to give her “real-world” feedback on issues she will deal with as a member of the U.S. House.

Hinson, a Marion Republican who won the Iowa 1st District U.S. House race earlier this month, will be sworn in Jan. 3 as a member of the 117th Congress, succeeding Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids.

Hinson said the advisory groups, or coalitions, will give residents an opportunity to advise her on what Congress should — or shouldn’t — be working on.

“As things come up in Congress that I’m going to have to deal with and vote on, I need their real-world feedback as well,” she said.

It’s a model, Hinson said, that served her well in four years in the Iowa House.

For example, she said she reached out to Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver for advice on animal protection laws the Legislature was discussing. Hinson also sought input from Greg McGivern, a retired Linn County sheriff’s deputy, on law enforcement issues.

“As we were working on criminal justice reform in the House, I reached out to attorneys on both sides of an issue to figure out how they would actually implement those rule changes,” she said.

When lawmakers are making decisions, “you should know how it’s going to play out and impact people in their daily lives,” she said. “So that’s the goal of the coalition — to help broaden my understanding of these issues.”

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So far, Hinson has formed coalitions for farmers, veterans, moms, law enforcement and small business. When she receives her committee assignments, Hinson said she may add more.

First District residents don’t have to be Republicans to join an advisory group. However, the signup page — https://ashleyhinson.com/join-a-coalition/ — on her website explains that as a member “you’ll join other residents who share your values ... (because) when we band together to support conservatism, we can do big things.”

Hinson has been isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19. She has been cleared to travel but continues to participate in congressional new member training virtually.

It is a bit frustrating, she said, not being in Washington, D.C., to meet her new colleagues face-to-face.

“When you’re a people person, you want to get out and have those conversations and develop relationships in person.” Hinson said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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