In an effort to familiarize community leaders with the legislative process and to give constituents a chance to voice any concerns, Representative Diane Franklin invited a group of community members from her district to the Capitol earlier this week.
Lake area leaders such as Mid County Chief Scott Fransden and Fire Marshal Chris Bachman, Linn Creek Police Chief Trevor Dowdney, Kids' Harbor Director Cara Gerdiman, Macks Creek Superintendent Josh Phillips along with other lawyers, insurance agents and chamber of commerce board members had lunch with Franklin and the current Speaker of the House, Timothy Jones. The mayor of Lebanon, a Laclede County commissioner and other Laclede County residents were also on hand at the luncheon.
Many attendees described the experience as an "unique opportunity."
For Fransden, the chance to sit down and visit with Franklin and Jones was refreshing and something new.
"I've been doing this a long time and have had meetings with legislators, but this was the first time meeting in this type of format. It was very informative," Fransden said.
The group enjoyed a luncheon in the Speaker's office with an open discussion with him and Rep. Franklin about issues that are concerning them and their areas. The group then got a chance to see the House floor and visit with Franklin again. A visit to the the constituent's senator was next on the list. Camden County residents sat down with Senator Dan Brown for a brief discussion. Attendees then were able to tour the Capitol before heading back home.
"I essentially wanted to enjoy the opportunity to visit the Capitol and to see where some of the most important decisions are made for the citizens of Missouri," Downdey said.
"I was in awe at the buzz that existed around the Capitol. I have visited the Capitol many times but it appears that the times I have visited the Representatives are away."
Some attendees used this opportunity to thank the Representatives.
"There are a lot of important issues and bills coming in front of the house that Rep. Franklin as well as Speaker Jones have been very supportive of as far as child advocacy and child abuse prevention, so I wanted to be here to thank them," Gerdiman said. "I also wanted to thank them for reinstating our children in crisis tax credits that we lost last year. Those are very beneficial to us in raising money and getting donations as well as their attempts to implement the recommendations of the tax force on prevention of child sexual abuse."
For others it was the chance to visit Rep. Franklin in her environment that brought them to the luncheon.
"I know how hard Diane Franklin works for us. I've never visited her in her office. I've never met the Speaker before and that was a big honor. We actually got to go out on the House floor and actually see where the people who have been elected to represent us work so hard and that was really impressive," Lake area attorney Trenny Garrett said. "You know these people from the community and businesses they have been involved in. Then they work hard in an election to get elected and then to actually see where they come to work every day, to support the issues that are important to our community, was really impressive."
Page 2 of 2 - Many attendees left the Capitol with hopes that opportunities like this one would come their way again.