Embarking on town meetings in Idaho’s unincorporated communities, I have been reminded of how much I admire and respect the people of Idaho. The dozens of meetings held so far in recent weeks in unincorporated communities build on the more than 200 meetings I held in every Idaho city between 2014-2016 and have allowed me to reach into new areas of the state seldom visited by most non-residents. This is an opportunity to hear directly from many across Idaho about what is on your minds. We are truly having conversations that matter. I have greatly enjoyed having these conversations with the people of our great state, and I am looking forward to visiting your community.
The kindness Idahoans have imparted has been heartening. Many have opened their homes and businesses and shared their thoughts with me about the direction of our country. We have gathered around dining tables, coffee tables and picnic tables. We have visited in parks in view of Idaho’s beautiful mountains. We met in school gyms and local cafes. While sharing ideas, Idahoans have shared homemade cookies and their immense warmth. They have gone above and beyond helping me along my route even helping to guide me to homes and other meeting locations.
Throughout, it has been clear that the people of Idaho deeply love our country and have shared thoughts about how to make progress to improve it. Some of the issues raised in discussions include the national debt; tax reform; working with President Trump and the need to work together in Congress; the importance of a business-friendly environment for jobs and growth; Second Amendment Rights; federal agencies overstepping authority and efforts to reduce federal regulation; water and personal property rights; health care reform; ensuring quality services for veterans; the Secure Rural Schools and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs; national defense and military; international trade; the importance of local postal service; agricultural legislation and challenges for young farmers; timber sales; collaborative efforts to protect natural resources; wilderness designations; the fire borrowing fix; right to work laws; immigration reform; Social Security and other mandatory spending programs; foreign aid; trucking permits and trucking logs; and protecting our Constitution.
These are just some of the many issues touched on during the discussions. Every issue is on the table. Idahoans want bright futures for their children, want to keep their jobs and ensure there are jobs available for others and want affordable and quality health care. They are also concerned about digging our nation out of its burdensome national debt and strengthening our country.
I hear the frustration driven by decisions and politics in Washington D.C. For example, a meeting attendee in Sweet noted that the political polarization in national affairs was evident among the differing views represented by the attendees at the meeting and recommended that everyone listen closely to each other.
Listening is the reason for these meetings. I decided that the best way to hear clearly from Idahoans all across the state is not to just listen in the traditional way, through emails, letters, meetings and calls—although these are all important, but to get in a car and travel the state. Our country is facing many challenges, and Idaho, where sensibility prevails, remains the best place to get national direction. Thank you to all of you who have made it out to discuss federal policies with me. Thank you immensely for your hospitality, thoughtfulness and encouragement.
I will continually announce upcoming visits to unincorporated towns through the “Newsroom” portion of my website, and a map of past town meetings is available at https://www.crapo.senate.gov/contact/town-halls.