Members of Washington state’s 47th Legislative District delegation hosted a town-hall meeting Saturday with strong turnout and a focus on education and transportation concerns.
Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn and Reps. Mark Hargrove and Pat Sullivan, of Covington addressed more than 100 people at the Golden Steer Steak n’ Rib restaurant in Kent, which lasted well over two hours.
“There are so many new and exciting ways to communicate with those interested in state government, but no technology will replace a face-to-face community dialogue with those we serve,” said Fain. “I’ve been consistently encouraged by the amount of participation and dedication our community has displayed. Like the last two years our friends and neighbors were prepared with great questions and ideas.”
“Community meetings like this are a great way to hear from the people we work for,” said Sullivan. “I really appreciate those who took time out of their weekend to participate.”
Similar to much of the public discussion statewide, Washington’s public-education system took center stage. Audience questions and legislators’ opening remarks focused on education funding – in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision from 2012 – as well as continuing efforts to reform the system through updated policy proposals, including a package of legislation that recently passed in the state Senate.
“It was great to get feedback to know that the issues I’m working on match up with the priorities of my constituents,” said Hargrove, R-Covington and assistant lead member on the House Transportation Committee. “I also hope the information we shared gave those in attendance a better understanding of the multiple perspectives on the issues we face in Olympia. Nothing beats face to face meetings to share information.”
Transportation infrastructure, including discussion on proposed increases in the state gas tax to pay for new projects, and questions about congestion and tolling on State Route 167 were also on the minds of attendees.
“Ever since I’ve been working with and representing this area our community has been consistent with its focus on education and transportation,” continued Fain. “Those two topics are two of the state’s most important duties. Our community recognizes the value for our local job market and small businesses of having students prepared to enter the workforce and a transportation network that allows our industrial corridor to move goods in and out of the area.”
The 47th District includes the cities of Auburn, Kent, Covington and Renton.
Those unable to attend are invited to contact their elected officials directly by calling the Legislature’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
The meeting was held as the Legislature is two-thirds of the way through its 105-day session, which is scheduled to end April 28.