Letter to the Editor

Representative Tim Walberg (Congressional District 7) Does Not Listen To His Constituents And Is Divisive.

I attended Mr. Walberg’s coffee hour in Dexter on Monday, March 11, at 9:30 am.  He makes it difficult to attend his open meetings.  He invites a select few constituents by written invitation.  The vast majority of the meetings are on weekday mornings and are announced on his website shortly before they occur, making attendance by most working constituents impossible. Because of my work schedule, I was able to attend this meeting and have attended a few others.  I have learned of each of them by word of mouth and at the last minute.

Mr. Walberg does not allow his constituents to speak at his open meetings.  Attendees are required to write questions on postcards which are then read by a moderator, who can filter them as he or she chooses or is instructed.  Luckily, at the Dexter meeting, the moderator was Judge Karl Fink, who read each postcard verbatim.  When a question is posed, Mr. Walberg gives his response.  Follow up or discussion of his answer is not allowed, not even by the person who wrote the question, and not even when the response given by Mr. Walberg contains misleading or untrue information.  When a constituent does try to speak up, Mr. Walberg will use his microphone to speak over the top of that person.  This is very frustrating. As a result, constituents sometimes resort to shouting or holding signs that indicate their feelings about his response.  For example, at the Dexter meeting one postcard indicated that the person had seen an increase in her taxes this year, despite being on a fixed income.  Mr. Walberg dismissed the premise, denying her experience, calling it unusual.  Multiple people tried to speak up to indicate they had had the same experience, and someone asked for a show of hands, but Mr. Walberg spoke over the top of the audience and changed the subject.  I have witnessed him react the same dismissive way when people try to tell him their reliance on the Affordable Care Act, on Planned Parenthood, and on net neutrality, to name a few occurrences.  Not surprisingly, there are often people in the audience who know quite a bit more about a given subject than Mr. Walberg, but he will not let them speak. On more than one occasion, I have watched constituents leave in anger because he will not listen. 

His tactics are divisive.  He frequently uses hot button words and insensitive comments.  He will introduce a divisive subject, that thoughtful, intelligent, caring people can have different views on, and does not allow discussion. At the Dexter meeting, it was Mr. Walberg, not a constituent, who brought up the subject of abortion, but only his opinion was voiced.  He makes statements that many in the audience know to be untrue or misleading.  Because he will not let us speak and will not listen, people become frustrated and angry.  Those who agree with him become frustrated and angry at the people who are trying to be heard.  The atmosphere is tense and unfriendly by the end.  He has been asked by many people on many occasions, including via his mandatory postcards, to let his constituents speak but he has refused.  

In contrast, I also attend the Dexter Forum.  These are twice monthly meetings on Saturday mornings that are well attended, open to anyone, scheduled on a regular basis, and moderated by John Hansen and Karl Fink, Democrat and Republican respectively.  These meetings are always interesting and people on both sides speak and listen to each other.  There is no shouting or sign holding, because we all have an opportunity to speak on any subject.  Those who know more about a subject, either by education, profession, or personal experience, are encouraged to give their opinions and to inform the rest of us.  We do not all come to agreement, but our community is strengthened by the open exchange of information, ideas, and opinions.  The atmosphere is warm and congenial.

In this time of polarization, we need more listening and more inclusiveness.  In our communities, we have much more in common with each other than differences.  I recently heard Representative Will Hurd (Texas Republican) in an interview say he represents all the people in his district – those who voted for him, those who voted against him, and those who didn’t vote at all.  We need a representative who will do the same, not a representative who only wants your donation and your vote, not your input.  We deserve a representative who lets us speak and brings us together, not Mr. Walberg who refuses to listen and continues to divide us. 


Kim Aiken

Dexter Township, precinct 3

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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