U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is giving the weekly Republican address today. Her office said she also plans to tour Olympia and meet with local government officials Tuesday, part of a swing through the sprawling 3rd District.
House Speaker John Boehner chose Herrera Beutler, a freshman who serves on the House Small Business Committee, to give the national GOP speech and to highlight GOP efforts to create jobs by reducing regulations and uncertainty. Since taking office, Herrera Beutler has hewn to a conservative line and won some attention for efforts such as her proposed legislation to cut congressional salaries by 10 percent.
Herrera Beutler is scheduled to meet with Olympia city officials Tuesday morning, then take a driving tour of the Democratic stronghold with Mayor Doug Mah.
Later she’ll tour the LOTT Clean Water Alliance’s water education center along Budd Inlet and meet with staff at LOTT’s wastewater treatment facility. She also is visiting the Thurston County Food Bank, the Olympia Downtown Association and Thurston Chamber members.
Also on Herrera’s agenda: tours of Lakeside Industries’ facility and Southwest Washington Medical Center Pathology Lab, both Thursday in Vancouver, and a meeting with the Centralia and Chehalis city councils on Friday evening at the Timberland Regional Library branch in Chehalis.
Thurston County Democrats attacked the Republican by passing a resolution recently that claimed she was ignoring Thurston County constituents. The 3rd District covers Southwest Washington from Olympia to Vancouver.
The congresswoman’s staff has vehemently denied that. They held their second “mobile office” event Wednesday in Olympia, drawing 10 constituents who brought a variety of issues, according to spokesman Casey Bowman. She also has met with local doctors in Tumwater and with local economic development officials,
In a follow-up to the recent story about Thurston County no longer having a congressional district office for the first time in four decades, The Olympian was finally able to talk to the Democrat who accused Herrera Beutler of writing off north Thurston County.
Chris Stearns serves as a nonpartisan elected Thurston Public Utility District commissioner and said he called the new lawmaker’s Vancouver office the day she was sworn in. He said he spoke to a male staffer.
“I guess I was asking why there wasn’t any office here. He said the (3rd District) lines would be north of Rochester after redistricting,” Stearns recounted. “When asked why there wasn’t an office (opened in Olympia as predecessors had done), he alluded that he himself thought the line would be somewhere north of Rochester or around Rochester (well south of Olympia). That is where we left it. It was at the end of the conversation. That’s when I realized this office was not thinking too much about up here.”
But Stearns said the staffer did not say anything about not serving the northern district, which the Democrats’ resolution and website have claimed. Stearns did not challenge the resolution. When asked about the apparent exaggeration of his statements by fellow Democrats, he said:
“I don’t know what to say about that. What I inferred from that (phone call) was a pretty blatant statement about changing the district line If the party took it differently by inference, I can’t speak to that. What they are reporting is what I said,” Stearns said.
Herrera Beutler’s office was livid about the resolution and story and spokesman Bowman called the Democrats’ claim “fiction.”
Complaints about the congresswoman’s responsiveness also were lodged by several local Democrats who sent unsolicited emails or called him, party chairman Stew Henderson said.
Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Tacoma never put a Lacey office in his 9th District, which covers the eastern portion of Thurston County. Herrera Beutler’s decision to hold “mobile office” hours instead of having an office in Olympia marks the first time in four decades that the Thurston County has no congressional office for constituents to visit.
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/politicsblog