Swalwell's 'mobile Congress' comes to Pleasanton | March 8, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - March 8, 2013

Swalwell's 'mobile Congress' comes to Pleasanton

by Jeb Bing

Former Congressman Pete Stark had one or two local forums that I remember, including a Saturday morning public meeting on national health care, so when the health issues had run their course, do did he and he moved on. Congressman Jerry McNerney valued these "Congress at Your Corner" events, as they're called, and held them frequently around the district including in small coffeehouses on Main Street. He considered them more one-on-one discussions and turned away when I moved too close to the discussion with my camera and tape recorder

Now we have a new congressman -- former Dublin Councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell. Last Saturday, he hit a grand slam with his two-hour, ask-me-anything Town Square in the large multi-purpose room at Harvest Park Middle School in Pleasanton. More than 300 showed up, maybe more since his staff of volunteers was busy bringing in more folding chairs during much of the morning. At times, 30 constituents lined up on each side of Swalwell, with aides taking the mike to one on the right, then to the left. Everyone who wanted had a chance to ask questions, some more than one, and he answered them all. He left before noon to go to Hayward where he did it again for voters in that city.

Swalwell is a Dubliner (as they call themselves) who graduated from Dublin High and also played with the Ballistics Soccer Club in Pleasanton. A bachelor, he comes home frequently from Washington, D.C. and is seen often at city, civic and community meetings in both cities. Besides holding his first Town Hall in Pleasanton, he's also set up his District office here at 5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 220.

It was clear Saturday as he handled the multitude of questions about issues concerning us locally that he understands the concerns and interests of the Tri-Valley and that he will be our congressional, almost personal representative in the capital. That includes the federal budget concerns which many expressed, especially those whose paychecks from the national laboratories at Sandia and Lawrence Livermore. At the time he spoke, the sequestrian fears were paramount, a massive federal spending cut which Swalwell said was totally unnecessary and could affect many here where the labs are our biggest employers. As for immigration reforms, drawing loud applause, Swalwell said his survey shows that 90% in the Valley favor a law that provides illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, noting that 52% even favor providing these undocumented residents with a California driver's license.

As he spoke, there was some muttering when he favored letting the states decide legalizing marijuana use and having the federal government back off, putting valuable resources to better use. A lot of head-nodding came when he vowed to fight the post offices' plan to end Saturday deliver, The audience applauded when he added that he will work to rein in the large political action groups that post campaign issue advertising without identifying their contributors.

His loudest applause came when he showed various assault rifles in slides on a screen and pointed out in detail how deadly they are. He'll support a federal ban as well as federal laws to force background checks.

Swalwell advocated for rescinding the No Child Left Behind Act, increasing funding for education, decreasing funding for defense and continuing government support of renewable energy projects with federal stimulus money. Several in the audience voiced their disagreement to his plan to remove, the Social Security cap, with wealthier Americans paying into the program. But everyone cheered when he proposed the idea of a "mobile Congress," with members casting votes remotely, while spending more time in their districts as he did last weekend, and intends to continue.


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