Jim McDermott meets new Burien constituents

By Gwen Davis

Passion, applause and anger were displayed at U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s town hall meeting at the Burien Library on July 14.

Last year’s redistricting efforts shuffled neighborhoods and residents in and out of congressional and legislative districts. Burien and the neighboring Normandy Park – originally in the 9th Congressional District (CD), represented by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith – are now in the 7th CD, represented by McDermott.
State Rep. Tina Orwall and state Sen. Karen Keiser of the 33rd Legislative District introduced McDermott to a crowd of approximately 35 attendees.

“Redistricting is an interesting experience,” McDermott began. “It gives you new people. I now have 30 percent new people in my district – so I’m coming out to meet them, both in the north and south end. It’s an opportunity for me, and for you to know who represents you.”

McDermott discussed his frustration with congressional Republicans.

“I disagree,” the Congressman said regarding the Republican agenda. “Government is the engine of social change. It’s to change things that don’t work, whether it’s home foreclosures or health care or education or anything else.”

McDermott’s talk covered topics ranging from health care reform, home forecloses, Wall Street reform and education.

“When Ronald Regan became governor of California, he said ‘Why is the University of California free? Why are we giving this free education to these students? We ought to charge them! They have to have some skin in the game. So, Regan started the process of shifting the cost of education from the state to the individual.”

“Now you’re seeing at the University of Washington that tuition is higher,” he said. “You see all the ways we’ve squeezed people to make it harder and harder.”

The congressman suggested that doctors, nurses and teachers should have their tuition covered if they agree to serve the state for five years after graduation by helping people in underserved areas.

The government implements this type of plan with those who join the Army, he said.

“We need to make an investment in our young people that could help us go forward.”

Attendees asked several questions, many about home foreclosures. Approximately two of the home foreclosure questioners were angry, prompting the audience to complain. After the meeting, McDermott provided the opportunity for attendees to have further discussions with him individually.

Several of the foreclosures questioners wore T-shirts identifying themselves as members of OurWashington, an organization that works on housing issues.