Photos / Congressional Town Halls: Merkley, Wyden listen to Lincoln County residents

Oregon U. S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley held town
halls in Lincoln City and Newport Jan. 9 and Jan. 14.

Merkley’s event was conducted at Taft High School Saturday
drawing an audience of about 50 people.

Merkley first met separately with members of the media to
take questions discussing a variety of issues, including control of the United
States border with Mexico, and federal funding assistance for roads and
adequate evacuation routes during natural disasters and wildfires.

Merkley said he was encouraged that the federal government
is making significant investment in infrastructure in Oregon and across the

“The key is to take on the infrastructure that is most
needed, and this is a pretty important piece, so I hope that as the state
wrestlers with priorities, that is one of the priorities that should be at the
top of the list,” Merkley said.

After meeting the reporters, Merkley met in a separate room
at the high school with city, county and state leaders.

Emerging from that session, Democrat State Rep. David
Gomberg said the meeting was encouraging.

“It’s always good to have the Senator here to see
fist-hand the challenges that we are dealing with on the Central Coast,
“Gomberg said. “We were talking about the looming issues, certainly
about housing and homelessness. We also talked about the fact that he was
instrumental in getting monies to replace very vulnerable dams in Newport. We
talked about the shipping container ports there are looking at in Coos Bay and
we talked about wind energy. Those are crucial issue here.”

Republican State Sen. Dick Anderson also attended the
leadership meeting with Merkley and the town hall. Anderson said the town halls
are of value.

“So, I welcome them and really appreciate them coming
to the coast because we often get forgotten,” Anderson said. “I am
not surprised by the questions during the town hall or with the (local)
leadership. Housing was a big issue. Looking for federal infrastructure
assistance for our roads and bridges, which are less than adequate. Even water
and sewer in the small communities need assistance. Taxing and bonds of our
local citizens can’t cover the costs. These are all issues that I’ve heard as
mayor of Lincoln City and now as senator on the coast.

Following an introduction by Lincoln City Mayor Susan
Wahlke, Merkley took questions from the audience about social security, the
national debt, cannabis sales, boarder issues, homelessness, the need for road
funding and other topics.

Wyden Town Hall

Sen. Wyden’s town hall in Newport, Jan. 9, drew
approximately 75 people. Wyden also addressed audience questions ranging from
the environment, gun control and border regulations.

Following the town hall, Wyden told The News Guard he was
impressed with the audience.

“Once again in Lincoln County, they are exactly what
the founding fathers wanted citizens to be all about,” Wyden said.
“They came out. There wasn’t a bad question in the house. They want to
hold their elected officials accountable. They want real answers to real
questions. They were asking what is it going to take to make changes? I just
admire the heck out of the folks that are were here and those in the

Wyden said one of his concerns is the national debt ceiling,
and that will be one of the main issues during this session of Congress.

“It’s going to be about how do we bring people
together,” he said.