About 60 of us dropped by Woodbury’s indoor City Park Saturday morning to meet Congresswoman Betty McCollum, whose 4th Congressional District moves to the east in January, 2013. Of course, during this time of transition, my town remains in Cong. Bachmann’s district until January, but all candidates for all elective offices need to become acquainted with greatly changed district boundaries as a result of census mandated redistricting.
(click on below photos to enlarge them)
In Congresswoman McCollums case, redistricting means that approximately one-fourth of her over 600,000 constituents (including the baby in the photo, below) will be new to her. Of course, the Congresswoman is in her sixth term in a district contiguous to ours, so she is not exactly a stranger in these parts.
In this case, redistricting makes for strange bedfellows. The current Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, lives in the to-be new 4th District, and as of this writing intends to continue to reside in the 4th, while running for her old seat in the reconfigured 6th District. It’s all completely legal. Bachmann has her own needs to get acquainted with new potential constituents….
There is not much to report about a get-acquainted session. This one was billed for an hour, started on time, ended on time: a good omen. In other contexts, I’ve had occasion to meet as part of groups with Rep. McCollum’s staff in St. Paul, and have always been pleased with their willingness to engage with constituents with concerns. The Congressman did speak to a current dilemma of constituent service. The majority Republicans in the House have cut back on Congressional staff budgets, which makes it more difficult for every Congressperson to get to know and thus better serve their constituents. It is part of politics.
One visitor raised the question of the oft-discussed needs for a new Stillwater Bridge, an increasingly intense political football.
I thought Cong. McCollum handled the issue very well. First of all, the project is not in her district yet, and it would be poor form to lambaste a colleague.
She does, however, have a position on transportation generally and the bridge specifically, and she simply directed us to her Congressional website. Her long-term position on the bridge issue is here. Succinctly, the issue is extraordinarily complex, tempting but dangerous to try to reduce into sound bites.
Of course, more than just Congressional Districts are affected by redistricting.
Our home address stays the same but we also are moved into new Minnesota House and Senate Districts. The incumbent House member for our new district is Nora Slawik, currently in our next door neighbor district. She and Ann Marie Metzger are likely candidates for the new House seats. Both Nora and Ann Marie were at the gathering. There is no Senate candidate for either party at this point in time.
Cong. McCollum pointed out the obvious: politics is a team sport.
We, the people, cannot delegate responsibility for who represents us: they’re not some vague “them”. If we despise Congress, and polling consistently shows that we do, it’s ourselves that we despise.
In a District with over 600,000 constituents, as all Congressional districts are, a candidate cannot do it alone, particularly when there are 150,000 new constituents. Running for office takes work, and lots and lots of help, time, financial and otherwise.
Cong. McCollums campaign site is here. Take a look.