It’s time to address the elephant in the room, or maybe the missing elephant in the room. On Jan. 23, Linn County League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, held their first legislative forum via video conference. All Linn County electeds were in attendance, except for two. My Republican lawmakers did not attend. This has become predictable for State Sen. Dan Zumbach, who rarely if ever attends forums. However, this was the first forum for newly elected State Rep. Charlie McClintock, I was surprised and dismayed he was not in attendance.
Due to the lack of a mask policy at the statehouse, many will not travel to Des Moines to speak with lawmakers about important legislation — myself included. When they refuse to attend local events, I am unable to exercise my right to petition my government. Republicans are proposing two constitutional amendments this session and sweeping changes to public education. Forums allow constituents to see all electeds answer the same questions about the same issues in real-time. This is an important part of a clear and transparent government.
I sincerely hope our two legislators attend future forums and recognize that their work as electeds doesn’t end with an election — that’s when the real work of listening to their constituents begins.
Mary L Burke