One of my top priorities as state senator is to meet often with the people I serve and hear their ideas, concerns and questions. Being accessible and a good listener helps me be the best that I can be at serving you.

That’s why I look forward to being in the Methow Valley again soon as part of my second annual 12th District “listening tour.” On Sept. 13, I’m setting aside a two-hour block (3:30 to 5:30 p.m.) for individual or group meetings, by appointment, in TwispWorks’ Executive Board Room. People interested in connecting with me should e-mail or phone my legislative office at (360) 786-7622 to schedule appointments. Coordinating individual and group appointments works well because stakeholders get separate time with my staff and me to discuss their issues. (There likely will not be time for drop-in visits). 

The listening tour is a good way for my staff and me to visit communities and hear a diversity of opinions. Also, the 12th District is so expansive and distant from Olympia that it’s difficult for people to travel to the Capitol in the middle of winter during the legislative session. I can save you a trip — we’re coming to you!

It’s always a pleasure to visit the Methow, which I’ve actually done several times already this year. My family vacationed in the Twisp area earlier this summer when my kids thoroughly enjoyed a theater camp at The Merc Playhouse. As senator, I co-hosted a forest health public meeting with Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and later participated in a gathering at TwispWorks to discuss the status of the smokejumper base with the U.S. Forest Service. 

I also attended a reception at the Winthrop Rink for outdoor recreation and a public meeting at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp to discuss recent and unfortunate fires. I also provided the welcoming address to a statewide farm and forestry association meeting at Sun Mountain Lodge.

In contrast, the Sept. 13 appointments will not so much involve me speaking but rather be dedicated to me listening. Like last year, I have invited my legislative staff and issue specialists to join me. People appreciated us making these resources available to their communities, and it’s good for the staff to hear directly from people about the issues of interest in our region.

The Sept. 13 stop in Twisp will finish the third day of this year’s listening tour, after appointments in Waterville and Bridgeport. As with last year’s tour, I will visit all four counties in the 12th District, starting Sept. 11 with meetings in Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee, and visits to Chelan, Coulee City and Soap Lake on Sept. 12. 

By listening to and gathering ideas from constituents in September, my staff and I will have ample time to prepare legislative ideas or budget requests before the 2019 legislative session, which begins in January.  

As locals know, outdoor recreation is a big part of the Methow’s community identity, contributing to its quality of life and boosting the local economy by attracting so many to this breathtaking part of Washington. That’s why I’ve chosen to conclude this year’s tour on Friday, Sept. 14, with a community hike on Patterson Mountain near Winthrop, starting at 10 a.m.

This popular trail, with its sweeping and stunning views of the Methow Valley, seems a fitting way to embrace the area’s recreational opportunities while enjoying a fun event with others. Everyone is invited! No appointments or RSVPs are needed, but do remember to bring sunscreen and water. 

Representing the Methow Valley is a high honor for me. I want you all to know, similar to the other communities in the outer edges of the district, that your thoughts are extremely important and valuable to me. I pride myself in being accessible to people in the Methow Valley and hearing your thoughts and ideas. Whether I’m here in the district or in Olympia, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your 12th District state senator.

Sen. Brad Hawkins represents the 12th Legislative District in North Central Washington at the Capitol in Olympia.