Access to representatives an absolute necessity

Friday, January 14, 2011

Serving Nebraska's Third Congressional District is the highest honor I could ever experience. Beyond representing Nebraskans on legislative matters, a significant part of my job is helping improve the federal government's accessibility and responsiveness when addressing the needs of Third District residents.

Civil discourse is a key component to any truly representative government. Through healthy debate, an open and transparent government can benefit all citizens. The American people need to be able to interact with those they elect to ensure their voices are heard and their representatives are accountable.

The House of Representatives is and should remain easily accessible to all Americans. After all, it's known as the "People's House." My office is proud to be a source of information, assistance, and reference for constituents. Being responsive by mail, phone, e-mail, and in person is absolutely necessary for our representative government.

The Third District spans 64,899 square miles, two time zones, and 68.5 of our state's 93 counties. By comparison, the entire state of New York covers just 54,556 square miles and has 62 counties. In fact, the Third District is larger than 27 states in the Union.

In light of these challenges, I host regular Mobile Offices throughout the Third District. These numerous Mobile Offices allow constituents to meet directly with me and my staff about federal issues and learn about constituent services available through a Congressional office.

Earlier this month, the 112th Congress opened with a bipartisan reading of the Constitution, which I wrote about last week. Members alternated reading passages of this founding document which has led our country through so many hard times.

Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) read the First Amendment during this historic reading, including the line "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" -- defending the right of Americans to peacefully participate in a democracy. It was just days before she was shot at a public meeting while carrying out the most fundamental duty of a Member of Congress -- listening to constituents.

Gabby is a colleague and a friend who is known for her civility and willingness to reach out. Her office was just a couple of doors down from mine our freshman year, and we were colleagues on the House Science and Technology Committee through last year. She is a consummate professional dedicated to her constituents and her country and -- thankfully -- appears on the way to recovery.

Along with the rest of the nation, I continue to pray for a full recovery by Gabby and all of the surviving victims of this heinous act, while mourning the loss of Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' director of community outreach; Dorwin Stoddard, a pastor at Mountain Avenue Church of Christ; nine-year old elementary student Cristina Greene; and constituents Dorthy Murray and Phyllis Scheck.

While some have called for increased security measures, barriers between elected officials and their constituents do nothing to foster open communication -- the bedrock of our democracy. Further, I refuse to allow a singular irrational act to dictate the dialogue I enjoy having with each of you.

For those wanting more information on Mobile Offices or other ways to contact me, visit my website at http://adriansmith.house.gov or contact any of my offices (contact information below). While there you can schedule a meeting with me, sign-up for regular issue updates, subscribe to my electronic newsletter, or request to take part in the many upcoming telephone townhalls I will be hosting this year. As always, I look forward to being in touch.

View 1 comment
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Thank you Representative Smith for sharing this information with us, it is most appreciated.

    Take care of yourself,

    Best Regards to you and your family

    -- Posted by Geezer on Fri, Jan 14, 2011, at 8:33 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: