Herger staff holds office hours in Truckee
In an effort to reach more of his constituents, the staff of U.S. Representative Wally Herger (R-Chico) held their first session of office hours in Truckee last Thursday at Town Hall.
Herger’s District Director Fran Peace, who appeared on behalf of the congressman, said she was not discouraged by the low turnout, which included only two visitors, though one was the Mayor of Truckee, Don McCormack.
“The office hours concept is going to take a few times to take hold,” Peace said. “It was like this when we first started (holding office hours) in Grass Valley.”
Peace said the occasional visitor has grown into an average of a dozen constituents during office hours in Grass Valley.
Peace said holding office hours at different locations is one way of attempting to meet the needs of constituents spread over a large, rural district.
“Wally represents 10 counties with so many interests and demands,” she said.
Herger’s congressional district stretches from the California-Nevada state line west to near Interstate 5 in the Central Valley. The district’s northern border is the Oregon state line, with the southern boundary roughly paralleling Interstate 80, including Truckee.
Herger has represented the 2nd Congressional District since 1986.
Peace said most of the people the staff sees during office hours are having difficulties with the federal government.
“Usually it’s people having problems with the federal government. Social Security, Veterans Administration, Internal Revenue Service, every federal agency you can think of, when people are having problems, they contact their congressman,” she said. “But when we get them, (often) they have thrown their hands up.”
Depending on the circumstances, the staff may open a case and try to help the individual navigate the federal government.
“My job is is to provide constituent service or case work,” she said.
Peace said Herger’s staff recently closed one case involving a veteran who was trying to get his benefits increased by the VA because his disease was service related.
“(Veterans) have to go through a long arduous process to get their benefits increased,” Peace said. This particular case took over three years, but was eventually closed successfully with the individual receiving increased disability and medical benefits.
Herger is chairman of the subcommittee of human resources. The subcommittee is under the direction of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Peace said the subcommittee has worked extensively on welfare reform. That, along with reforming the federal Endangered Species Act, are Herger’s bread and butter issues.
“We are a resource based district,” she said. “He believes the Endangered Species Act should also provide for human health and safety.”
Peace said Herger thinks the current energy crisis will pale in comparison to future water issues.
“Water is huge for our entire 10-county area. We aren’t going to have enough of it, because we aren’t building enough storage facilities,” she said. “There are too many environmental concerns.”
Peace, who has been with Congressman Herger since his days in the state assembly, will be in Truckee about once a month, depending on events here and elsewhere.
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