On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Gerry Connolly spoke to a crowd of about 200 people in Greenspring Village, a retirement community in Springfield. I will be posting about some of the specifics policy issues that were discussed tomorrow, but I did want to take the time today to provide some of my reaction to the over all event.
Although I knew Gerry had attended several events at Greenspring during his time as an elected official, I was very impressed to see how many people that he knew there on a first name basis. What was even more impressive to me, however, was the plain and simple fact that several of the people in attendance spoke about how responsive they thought Rep. Connolly had been to their community over the years. As someone who has heard Gerry talk about his desire to give back to the community during both public speeches and private conversations, this was yet another example of how he actually follows through on this concept and doesn’t just use it as part of his stump speech.
As people gathered in the auditorium, I heard multiple community members speaking about their disappointment around the non-stop campaigning and the huge amounts of money needed to run a successful campaign. With the country facing the worst economic situation since the Great Depression, these residents were making it perfectly clear that they’d like to see move forward on actual legislation that could help the American people and listening to the concerns of their constituents instead of spending all their time campaigning.
The frustration surrounding the enormous amount of money being spent on campaigns manifested itself in opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision that ruled corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money either for or against certain candidates. When it came to the Q & A portion of the meeting, several Greenspring residents wanted to know what Gerry thought about the decision.
I thought Gerry was right on with his answer when he pointed out this was a decision that reversed 80 years of settled law. He really went after both Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts because they had told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would be respecting established law. Although there isn’t necessarily anything he could do as a member of the House since it’s the Senate that confirms Supreme Court justices, Gerry thought it was wrong that Alito and Roberts were able to so blatantly break the promises they made during testimony to the Senate.
Another interesting aspect of the event was that Gerry spoke out on several occasions during the meeting about how he was extremely disappointed with the pace of how things were moving in the Senate. There are many pieces of important legislation that have been passed by the House, only to be sitting in the Senate and waiting to be acted upon. Like I have heard from the offices of several other Members of the House of Representatives, Gerry was clearly advocating that the Senate should be picking up the pace. What makes Gerry’s remarks noteworthy is that he spent several years as a Senate staffer and understands the process through which that body works. I sincerely hope that the Senate leadership therefore listens to Gerry’s comments and actually begins to take some action on the legislation and appointments that need to be approved as soon as possible.
All in all, I thought the town hall meeting went very well and the residents who were in attendance appeared to be very appreciative of the opportunity to once again take part in a conversation with Rep. Connolly. As one woman pointed out, Gerry has been the most responsive elected official that she has ever encountered (a sentiment with which many people in the crowd agreed). Tomorrow I’ll be posting about what Gerry specifically had to say about a few topics including the economic situation we’re currently facing and the state of health care reform.