This Wednesday, Greg Johnson, a representative for U.S. Congressman Leonard Boswell, was at the Drake Community Library answering questions from residents of Grinnell and the surrounding area. Johnson holds these meetings in many towns in the district as open office hours for constituents while the congressman is away in D.C.
Boswell is a Democrat who represents the third district of Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives. His district includes Grinnell as well as Des Moines and many other towns. Boswell was reelected in November and has served in Congress since 1997, after serving as President of the Iowa State Senate from 1993-96.
One of the ways the congressman keeps in touch with the district is through a representative from his offices who visits Grinnell twice a month. The purpose of the visit is to give constituents an opportunity to speak with a representative for the congressman directly and in person. Anyone is allowed to attend, with no appointment necessary, to ask their questions or voice their concerns.
Johnson hosts these meetings often, but attendance varies. Busy periods are usually closer to elections and when more controversial matters are being debated in Congress. During the health care debate, for example, many constituents showed up to express their opinions on the proposed packages.
Most congressmen in the United States send out representatives throughout their district to provide personal contacts in communities. Especially in states with large geographical boundaries to cover, representatives like Johnson can help constituents feel more connected to their congressman, regardless of where they live. In Boswell’s district, Johnson covers seven counties and visits several towns in each county on a monthly basis. These meetings help the congressman have office hours available close to home for everyone in every the district, no matter where they live.
Meetings with Boswell’s staff serve the community in a variety of ways. Constituents can go to the representative with questions regarding missing social security checks, relatives serving in the military, problems with different federal agencies, or other situations for which they would like to seek help from the congressman. Representatives for the congressman often deal with immigration issues for students and professors at the College.
Johnson will be visiting Grinnell again in the near future. Anyone in the Grinnell community is welcome to attend these meetings with any issues or questions. If you would like to attend a future meeting with a district representative, you can visit Leonard Boswell’s website.