Congressman Polis hosts town hall meeting in Berthoud

By Amber McIver-Trawick

The Surveyor

Congressman Jarod Polis

Democrat Congressman Jarod Polis held a town hall meeting at the Berthoud Community Center on Saturday morning, Aug. 26. Topics of discussion included immigration, gun control, public lands, infrastructure, defense spending, healthcare and education.

Polis, who is currently in his ninth year representing the second district of Colorado, is also running for governor in 2018. Polis stated Saturday he has seen a  four to five times increase in emails, letters and phone calls he has received, compared to previous years, and the town halls were a direct response to that increase. Polis commented he felt there had been, “…a civic resurgence as a result of some of the dysfunction in Washington and a lot of people who sat on the sidelines are getting involved.”  According to Polis the last town hall he hosted in Berthoud drew around 30 participants.

The hour-long meeting, this time, was attended by around 100 of Polis’ constituents that included supporters and opponents alike. The meeting began with a few minutes of opening remarks by Polis after which the floor was opened for questions and comments.

While discussing what he had recently accomplished in Washington, Polis said, “One of the crowning achievements of last Congress, not just for me, but I think for the country, was the replacement of ‘No Child Left Behind’ with the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act.’” This bipartisan effort was designed to make student testing and school accountability more flexible, but once again placed responsibility of under-performing schools in the individual state’s hands.

The congressman also stated he worked to pass three bills through the House, two pertaining to the use of public lands in Colorado and the third being the Email Privacy Act which amended the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to include protecting the contents of emails, and requires a search warrant for them to be obtained by law enforcement.

Local issues that were raised included the Interstate 25 corridor and what can be done to ease the congestion of Northern Colorado’s infrastructure. Polis commented, “…we were able to get the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant for the Highway 25 north lane expansion project.” But pertaining to a larger public transportation system being implemented he stated, “It’s a Larimer County question of how do we get the county to either participate in or to have their own larger initiative like (Colorado) RTD (Regional Transportation District) does.” He continued, “I hope the federal side can partner with it, but it has to be driven locally.”

The privatization of public lands, like Rocky Mountain National Park, was also discussed, “It’s not just for the environment… it’s not just for our own enjoyment, it’s actually for jobs” Polis said, while expressing his advocacy for keeping public lands public.

More than one person questioned how the congressman felt about school choice and school funding. Polis stated, “…what I’m for is choice within public education, meaning not subsidies to religious schools or private schools. I’m supportive of, and founded, a charter school. I’m very supportive of open enrollment …people have lives that are mobile.” However, he reiterated that although it was a good choice for some families,   “…we shouldn’t’ have public funds going to faith-based programs.”

When asked about why he didn’t support increasing defense spending for the military, Polis said he felt that, “..when we spend beyond our means on defense, which we are – all deficit spending – enormous increases, I believe it makes us less secure rather than more secure…”

Immigration concerns prompted the congressman to outline what he saw as a solution that included paying a fine for being in the county illegally to, “get right with the law,” and then receive provisional work permits with the possibility of citizenship further down the road. “The issue won’t go away until Congress addresses it,” he said.

On healthcare reform and the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Polis said, “…now the bipartisan work can begin where we roll up our sleeves and come up with common-sense solutions.” He also stated that, “I would love to see us move to universal (healthcare) without a doubt.” Polis said he is currently part of a bipartisan committee to find a solution to reduce costs in healthcare.

When asked about his stance on supporting a national concealed-carry permit for gun owners, Polis said he would be willing to support it depending on the specificity of the bill itself and the inclusion of universal background checks. He said, “The concept is a fine one but there is a lot of devil in the details.”

For any federal issues, the congressman encouraged attendees to reach out to his office, “whatever your political positions are, it doesn’t matter, but if you have an issue, if you need something; veterans’ affairs, social security or immigration, call us.” He also suggested taking his office contact info with you when you travel abroad in case your passport is lost, as they are able to help expedite the process of replacing it. He concluded the event by saying, “We are here for you, and I’m honored to work for you.”





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