To the editor:
We miss the legislative coffees that our state representatives, Sen. Jake Chapman and Rep. Ray Sorensen, held here in Adair County. Our tradition of monthly legislative coffees has been in effect for years. Coffees were held for an hour one Saturday monthly in Greenfield and then up in Guthrie Center. Sponsors in Greenfield were the Farm Bureau and Main Street/Chamber of Commerce. All people in Adair County were welcomed at the coffees, and the conversation was often informative and lively.
But, sadly, the legislative coffees have been canceled here in Adair County. Neither Chapman nor Sorensen has explained why they will no longer be available in a public forum to the voters of Adair County, the people for whom they work.
Sorensen met with the public in Guthrie Center at the Farm Bureau office at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, but there was no information in the Adair County Free Press inviting his Adair County constituents to attend.
Sorensen told citizens on Facebook that the Chamber of Commerce decided to discontinue hosting the meetings. However, the Chamber bowed out of co-hosting them with the Farm Bureau, but the Farm Bureau decided to continue the coffees. It was Sorensen and Chapman who backed out, with Sorensen saying only that he would meet with local groups and individuals.
Democracy requires the public to be engaged in politics and governance. Our elected officeholders’ unwillingness to attend public forums in Greenfield makes us wonder if our representative government is actually representative. This is not an issue of Democrats versus Republicans. This is an issue of whether people who work for us, people whom we elect and pay a salary and benefits to from our tax dollars, are willing to meet with us in a public forum. It appears they are not.
We call on Sorensen and Chapman to immediately begin Saturday morning coffees here in Adair County and other counties they serve in February, March and through the end of the session in order to review pending legislation and, very importantly, to listen to the citizens of their districts at public forums.
Since this letter to the editor was written, we have learned that Sorensen will be holding coffees in Greenfield and Perry that will be open to the public. While that is a great first step, Friday is not a day when most working people can attend. We would encourage both Chapman and Sorensen to resume regular Saturday meetings.
Thaddues Hawley, Judy Kading, Steve Wolfe and Susan Olesen