Letter to the Editor: Goodlatte will not listen to constituents

Editor:

I recently had an opportunity, along with a few others, to meet with Congressman Bob Goodlatte to discuss some issues important to his constituents.  We visited his office in Harrisonburg to respectfully express our concerns about health care, immigration and the federal budget.  It immediately became clear that Mr. Goodlatte was not interested in hearing what we had to say.  Instead of listening politely, he continually interrupted us and was combative and dismissive of our concerns.

When I tried to discuss the health of our rivers, which provide drinking water for hundreds of thousands of his constituents, and the importance of rejecting the president’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Chesapeake Bay program, Mr. Goodlatte abruptly cut me off.  If he had allowed me to finish my remarks, I would have shared local success stories of the Chesapeake Bay program minimizing stormwater runoff,  controlling runoff from crop fields and excluding livestock from our waterways.

Two-thirds of Chesapeake Bay program funds are pass-through funds to the states.  Since 2010, Virginia has received over $24 million in Chesapeake Bay funds for local projects, including many in Mr. Goodlatte’s District.  These actions protect the Shenandoah River, help our towns and cities, and assist farmers improve soil productivity and herd health.

The reason to continue this program is that significant water quality issues still threaten our local streams and rivers. Anyone who has fished or floated the North Fork of the Shenandoah recently knows that massive algae blooms are choking sections of the river and displacing native vegetation.  But most alarming is that male smallmouth bass are producing eggs.  The valley’s rivers provide the economic foundation for our farms and businesses and are a major tourist and recreational draw. Mr. Goodlatte should understand that continued bay program funding is good for all of us.  I hope that he will support continued funding for this valuable program.

The lack of common courtesy in our meeting was extremely disappointing. Mr. Goodlatte’s refusal to listen to the voices of those he is elected to represent is indefensible in a representative democracy.

 

Mary Gessner, Woodstock