Congressman Derek Kilmer’s daughter once asked him why he had to go to a host a town hall meeting. He told her it was because he worked for the people and was there to listen to them.
Realizing she was one of the people he worked for, she asked him for candy.
Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, listened to the people again Monday night during a town hall at Peninsula High School. He gave a short presentation on what he believes works — and doesn’t work — in government. He took questions from the half-full auditorium that ranged from government waste to health care.
For the most part, Kilmer said he believes the best way for the government to get things done is through public engagement. That’s why he hosts town halls.
“I think democracy works best when I’m accountable and available to you,” he told the crowd.
Kilmer called the government a “fixer-upper” and encouraged voters to stay engaged and tell Congress when they see something wrong.
“We work for you,” he said. “That’s how (government) works.”
Kilmer said creating jobs is the biggest problem the federal government faces in a tepid economy — “the big enchilada,” as he called it.
With the shutdown last month, Kilmer said the federal government lost $24 billion. He characterized it “a complete failure by Congress to do the right thing.” On top of that, there’s sequestration, a term Kilmer said he thinks is “the Latin word for ‘stupid.’”
To work out the problems with the economy, Kilmer said Congress needs to cut spending, pass tax reforms and grow the economy. To get people to work, Congress needs to pass campaign finance reform and set aside partisan games, he said.
For example, Kilmer said there needs to be help for small businesses. Rather than a backbone, small businesses are the star running back of the economy, he said. The government needs to be there to block for small businesses that are “too often tackled at the line of scrimmage,” he said.
Afterward, Kilmer visited with members of the audience, passed out his card and listened to concerns.
The stop in Purdy was part of a town hall tour that also includes Sequim and Grays Harbor. Kilmer has hosted town halls across Washington’s 6th Congressional district. This is his first term in Congress after he was elected last November to take over for former Congressman Norm Dicks.