Earlier this September, I concluded my third annual district-wide listening tour. We expanded it this year by one additional day which was helpful and much needed.
Traveling throughout North Central Washington with my staff has become an annual tradition in the fall, the time of year that legislators traditionally begin planning for the upcoming legislative session.
In past years, I have visited Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Chelan, Quincy, Coulee City, Soap Lake, Bridgeport, Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop, and Waterville – all communities in our vast 12th Legislative District. This year’s tour included many of those same stops along with new additions of Mansfield and Mazama. Despite all of the communities we have visited, there are some still remaining on my list for a future year.
The size and diversity of our district can make some decisions more difficult in Olympia, but I try my best to learn the range of issues affecting us and to represent the entirety of our district when making decisions.
Hearing the diversity of voices throughout the region — as is the case each year — helps me do my job better.
During this year’s listening tour, community members helped me learn more about agriculture, healthcare, wildfire, transportation, education, land use, and clean energy issues just to name a few. Business regulations, tax pressure, outdoor recreation, traffic slowdowns, wildfire response, education funding, water availability, and housing affordability continue to be topics of major interest. This feedback will certainly be helpful for me when casting key votes in Olympia.
Similar to past listening tours, I concluded my busy week with a community hike, this year up the Chelan Butte Trail overlooking beautiful Lake Chelan. Participants included Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney, Representative Mike Steele, Lake Chelan Trails Alliance, Chelan High School football team, Butte Brand apparel creators, and other individuals and groups.
The hikes provide me with an opportunity to connect with people in a unique and different way — and they have become political “walk and talk” opportunities, which are a fun change of pace from common conference room or office discussions.
As I review my notes from this month’s listening sessions and look ahead to the legislative session in January, I will travel to Olympia not only better prepared to represent us but also filled with gratitude for the opportunity to do so. If you were not able to participate in my recent listening tour, please know that you can connect with me year round. Whether here in the district or in Olympia, please reach out and stay in touch through letters, phone calls, or emails. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator. I appreciation your willingness to share your thoughts and ideas with me. I learn by listening.