Opinion Pieces

Goldendale Sentinel: Working for you, please speak so I can hear you

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Goldendale, November 20, 2019 | comments
Whether you’re a commercial fisherman on the coast or a farmer living in the shadow of Mt. Adams—I work for you. Taking your voice to Congress is not only important, it’s the only way to operate as a public official. And here’s my secret to success: Listening.
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Whether you’re a commercial fisherman on the coast or a farmer living in the shadow of Mt. Adams—I work for you. Taking your voice to Congress is not only important, it’s the only way to operate as a public official. And here’s my secret to success:

Listening.

Without hearing from you, I cannot do this job. So, please take the time to let me know what matters to you. Here are some examples of ways I’ve been able to help after hearing from folks.

Helping individuals solve problems, secure more than $1 million they’ve earned

One of the most important parts of my job is cutting through bureaucratic red tape to help individuals get answers from federal agencies.

For instance, earlier this year Sid Fredericks of Dallesport told me he wasn’t receiving his retirement benefits from a federal agency. After he gave my office some basic information, my staff and I got to work. We were able to help him obtain his backpay for $1,715.50.

So far this year, we’ve helped individuals like Sid recoup and save more than $1 million in Social Security funds, back pay, and other benefits they’ve earned.

Not everyone thinks to call their member of Congress for individual assistance, but in fact, I have an experienced staff working alongside me dedicated to solving these types of issues. Whether you’re a veteran who hasn’t heard back from the VA or you’re an individual who hasn’t received an overdue IRS return—we’re ready to assist.

Tackling major challenges

I’m also standing by to help with local issues that impact whole communities. In 2016, Klickitat officials alerted me to the dangers of unmarked transmission lines across the Columbia River. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was resisting calls to place safety markers on these lines in a very heavily trafficked airspace. As a result, the military training missions, civil planes, fire tankers and other aircrafts that fly above the Gorge were at risk of this nearly invisible hazard. The top cause of fatal aircraft accidents is wire strikes.

I called a meeting with the BPA, community leaders, and the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss this important issue and request a commitment to fix it. Within a few months, the markers were installed.

Yet another example: in 2017, some residents called me in a panic when they were told that no insurance plans would be offered in Klickitat County. Worse, they would have faced Obamacare’s $695 penalty for not purchasing health insurance—even though no insurance was available.

I was able to urge Washington’s Insurance Commissioner to get back to the negotiating table with health insurers and restore health plans in Klickitat County. I’ve since supported legislation that helped stabilize the health insurance market in the medium-term and eliminate the Obamacare penalty. And I was able to help because residents took the time to share with me.

Let me know!

While I strive to visit as many cities, towns and neighborhoods as I can when Congress is not in session, I offer other ways to let me know what matters. You can email me directly at jhb.house.gov/contact; I’ll respond to you directly.

I also hold community meetings and telephone town halls where folks can share their thoughts with me directly. For those living in remote areas, my tele town halls offer a great way for you to connect with me. Whether you’re out mowing your lawn, driving home from work, or trying to get dinner on the table for your family, you can take part. If you’re interested in joining my next tele-town hall, you can visit my website at JHB.house.gov and sign up to receive an alert in advance of the event.

Calling my office to pass me a message, sign up for town hall alerts, schedule an in person visit at one of my offices, or asking for assistance works great too. (360) 695-6292.

It is an honor to represent residents of Klickitat County in Congress. With your help, I look forward to advocating for the interests of the great folks here.

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