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Southeast Center plays host to one heck of a town hall

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Sen. Margaret Carter addresses a crowd of more than 100 people at a Thursday night town hall at the Southeast Center campus. Rep. Michael Dembrow, left, listens in. (Photos by Dana Haynes)

Among the lawmakers attending the Southeast Center town hall were Sen. Richard Devlin (left, white beard), Rep. Dembrow and Rep. Ben Cannon (foreground).

Sen. Devlin, foreground, serves as chairman of the Senate Democrats. Rep. Dembrow is a first-year lawmaker and teaches at PCC Cascade.

Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, dropped by the Southeast Center unexpectedly. Listening to her are, from left, Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, Rep. Cannon and Rep. Dembrow.

Wow. If you were one of the lucky 100-plus people at the Southeast Center town hall last night, you got to take part in a rollicking, hilarious event. If you weren’t, well… what am I always telling you about these things?

The lawmakers who represent the area around the Southeast Center had advertised the town hall on their e-mails and through this blog. They’re Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, Rep. Ben Cannon and Rep. Michael Dembrow (his district is to the north a bit). Then, a few days ago, they announced a guest: Sen. Richard Devlin, who chairs the Senate Democratic Caucus and who is widely recognized as one of the gurus of the budget in Salem.

Those four would have been worth seeing by themselves. But a few minutes into it, we were surprised by two more senators: Sen. Margaret Carter, whose district includes the Cascade Campus, and Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene.

There is nobody in the Legislature who gives a better speech than Sen. Carter. She really gets the joint rocking. And Sen. Walker is famous for her acerbic humor and her strong passion for Oregon. So when those two get going, you’re in for a show.

The audience was large for this kind of thing and threw out some great questions, ranging from Planned Parenthood to a proposed increase in the beer tax. (I’ve already promised the lawmakers: If they increase the beer tax, I’ll drink more beer. Hey, what can I say? I’m a team player.)

This was a classic example of the citizen Legislature, rolling up its collective sleeves and taking the hard questions. It was a great event, organized by the local lawmakers’ absolute kick-butt legislative aides (the hardest working people in the Western Hemisphere).

dana

About Dana Haynes

Dana Haynes, joined PCC in 2007 as the manager of the Office of Public Affairs, directing the college's media and government relations. Haynes spent the previous 20 years as a reporter, columnist and editor for Oregon newspapers, including ... more »

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