Letter: (Not) meeting with Gardner
Today, I will be engaged in a three-hour, round-trip driving expedition to Grand Junction accompanied by several other Roaring Fork Valley residents. We are going to meet with one of Sen. Corey Gardner’s staffers.
It has taken many, many emails and phone calls to set up this meeting. Glad as I am that a handful of us will have an opportunity to talk to Gardner’s staffer, the meeting is a far cry from what has actually been requested: a town hall meeting with voters in Glenwood Springs. (Staffers have told us that Gardner never visits any town in the valley but Aspen. I found this rather insulting; it leaves me wondering whether constituents with a household income less than Aspen’s $71,255 a year don’t count in Gardner’s estimation.)
Perhaps we shouldn’t feel slighted. Maybe it’s just population? Gardner, whose staff first told us that he wasn’t going to be in Colorado at all during the congressional recess, has turned down constituent meeting requests in towns far bigger than ours: Disappointed Durango voters delivered petitions with 15,000 signatures asking for in-state town hall meetings from Gardner. About 70 protesters showed up in Denver asking for a meeting, to no avail. Colorado Springs voters wound up posting fake missing-person signs of Gardner after they were rebuffed. Fort Collins residents even held a town hall meeting with Gardner in absentia; constituents took turns role-playing the absent Gardner, representing his likely positions to the 160-some voters gathered in the church hall.
Then again, maybe it is about money. Perhaps Gardner accused those contacting his office of being paid protesters because what he’s participating in is a pay-to-play government. (Counter to what his staffers projected, Gardner did come home during recess. He found time to address a couple of business groups. He spoke at an agricultural forum in Denver and at the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 22. He has also scheduled a March 4 meeting in Alamosa with Republican donors.)
I would really be pleased to have Rep. Corey Gardner prove me wrong about this. While it’s unlikely that local voters are going to ante up the kind of donations Gardner has seen from Betsy DeVos ($49,800), Anadarko Petroleum ($43,000) or Koch Industries ($42,200), we’ll happy dig into our teacher’s pay and retirement savings to pay to rent a hall. We’ll even pitch in for his gas.
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