A few years ago, following my election to the state Senate, I scheduled my first district-wide listening tour hoping to connect with you in a more creative and unique way.

My idea was to set aside time each fall, when legislators traditionally begin looking ahead to the upcoming legislative session, to travel throughout our region and hear directly from you in your communities.

I hoped you would embrace the idea of the listening tour, and you did. The response each year has been incredibly positive and provides me helpful insight into important issues throughout our legislative district, one that is quite big.

The 12th District — one of the largest in the state — includes all of Chelan County, all of Douglas County, and portions of Grant and Okanogan counties.

Past listening tours have taken me just about everywhere, including Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Chelan, Quincy, Coulee City, Soap Lake, Bridgeport, Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop, and Waterville — all communities in our expansive and diverse district. The final day of the past two tours included community hikes where we could enjoy some of our awesome outdoor recreation and connect with each other in a different and special way.

The first year’s hike took us up Saddle Rock in Wenatchee and last year up Patterson Mountain near Winthrop.

This year’s listening tour is scheduled for September 3-7, with visits to Cashmere, Leavenworth, Quincy, Wenatchee, Mansfield, Pateros, Twisp, Mazama, and Chelan. For more information on the stops or to schedule an appointment to connect with me, please contact my office. The 2019 listening tour will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9 a.m. with a hike up the Chelan Butte Trail overlooking beautiful Lake Chelan.

Everyone is invited and we expect a large turnout from the community, including hiking partners from the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance, Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney, and others.

Past listening tours have led to me introducing bills signed into law by the governor, like the idea from Leavenworth about disposing of brush and yard waste. Other issues that were shared with me during listening tours, like the Saddle Rock soil remediation in Wenatchee and a road-paving project at Leader Lake in Okanogan County, received state funding. Additional feedback received — on issues ranging from health care to transportation, agriculture, wildfire, and education, all were discussed and helped me be a more effective legislator for you.

Also, like past years, my office and communications staff, along with Senate issue specialists, will be joining me for the listening tour. I invite them along each year to bring their expertise to you along with some extra ears to do the “listening,” which is so important for effective government.

If you have questions that we cannot answer, we’ll seek answers and follow up with you. People who have met with us in past years have been surprised and pleased with our interest, responsiveness, and attention to detail. To me, however, this the standard we set and it only makes sense because we work for you.

I am very appreciative that the past listening tours have been successful, and I look forward to this year’s tour in September. If you can’t connect with me then, feel free to contact me anytime. Whether here in the district or in Olympia, please reach out and stay in touch with letters, phone calls, or email. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your 12th District state senator.

Brad Hawkins, R-Wenatchee represents the 12th District. Contact him at 360-786-7622 or brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov.