Big Al and I got up early this morning and went to breakfast at Knapps down in the Proctor district. It’s a fine little family style, plain home-cooking restaurant. The excuse was to talk to Representative Derek Kilmer, who is our representative to the House of Representatives. (Do you think I could fit one more “representative” into that sentence?) He’s a first-term congressman and is really trying to do what his constituents want. It’s helpful that most of his constituents are also flaming liberals, like me.
Anyway, during this recess he is holding “Conversation with Derek” at various coffee houses and venues around the district, and there was one scheduled for this morning near us – so we went. It was very nice, because he came around to each table and sat with us and just visited – asked about what our hot-button items were and told us what he was doing. We said we were primarily concerned with the erosion of military retirement benefits, with SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), and with the attack in various parts of the country on voting rights. (We told him we were eternally grateful that we no longer had to apologize to the rest of the country for being from Texas.)
He serves on the Armed Forces Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, and all the Navy bases on the Kitsap Peninsula are in his district, so he seems intimately familiar with the status of military pay and benefits. He promised he would do what he can to assure the benefits that were promised to us for many years are not further eroded. Unfortunately, he is pretty junior, but he’s willing to go to bat for the service people in his district.
I told him I was on the Board of Pierce County Hunger Advocates, and he said he remembered meeting with Herman Diers (the chair of PCHA). He thanked me (blush) for my involvement, and I told him we were aware of his support for SNAP and for a fair and balanced budget. He said he was appalled at the rhetoric during the debate on SNAP, and he related how “mean” (his word) the Republicans seemed about the issue. He said he was embarrassed at them wanting to require employment for eligibility for SNAP, as if they didn’t know most people on SNAP either had a job already or couldn’t work because they were elderly, disabled, or children. He’s trying his best on this issue, and I asked if we could do anything to help him. He said the best thing to do is to spread the word to all our friends and family and set the record straight.
He has joined Rep. John Lewis in an effort to restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and will be co-sponsoring a bill to that effect. This to me is one of the most important issues currently in our country. We told him the story of the Texas precinct that had moved its polling place to the whites-only country club, and he just shook his head. He said he will try to do what he can to see that this is put right.
Of course, I ate too much breakfast while waiting for our turn with the Congressman, so I spent the rest of the morning in a semi-comatose state.
Then I had a lunch appointment with a lady from the Nominating Committee at Bethany Presbyterian Church. She asked me if I would be willing to serve on the Session for the next three years, and I agreed. I miss having my fingers in the church pie, and you all know, I’m the ultimate presbygeek, who reads Roberts Rules of Order for fun, and has the Book of Order on my bedside table for a little light bedtime reading. 😉 I was so full from breakfast that I wasn’t able to eat much lunch, but we had a good time talking about politics and church and generally getting to know each other better.