By Marcy Stamper
Rep. Dan Newhouse was not able to attend a listening session in Brewster scheduled for last week because of complications in treatment his wife, Carol, is receiving for cancer.
“There have been recent complications, but we remain hopeful as Carol receives care to regain her strength. I need to be with my family as we face this challenge together,” Newhouse said in a post on his Facebook page last Wednesday (April 19), the day before the listening session would have taken place.
About 15 politically active groups in the Methow Valley had planned to attend but elected to wait until Newhouse would be available.
“Methow Indivisible groups have extended our sympathy to him and his family and are choosing to wait and gather at a time when Newhouse is able to attend,” a representative of the local groups said in an email to supporters and others who may have been planning to attend.
About 10 people did attend the session and met with a Newhouse staffer, leaving questions for the Congressman about topics that ran the gamut from public lands to health care to immigration to wildfire-recovery efforts, Will Boyington, Newhouse’s communications director, said this week.
The listening session had been scheduled during Congress’ spring break, and Newhouse was able to attend sessions in Moses Lake and Sunnyside before his wife’s health forced him to miss the Brewster session. While Congress is back in session this week, Newhouse is still with his family and did not return to Washington, D.C., said Boyington.
Because constituents were encouraged to RSVP if they were interested in attending the session, Newhouse’s staff was able to email each one to let them know of the change in plans. They also notified people through Newhouse’s Facebook page, said Boyington.
About 20 members of the Methow groups met early last week to compile questions for Newhouse, according to Pat Leigh, who is working with one of the groups. “We wanted to craft questions that would express our concerns and prompt a more in-depth response,” she said. Their questions covered public lands, climate change, environmental and habitat issues, and immigration, among other issues, said Leigh.
“This was a hard decision for me to make because I had planned to hear in person from constituents in Okanogan, as I have in Grant County and the Lower Valley listening sessions last week,” Newhouse said in the Facebook post. “I will host an additional listening session in Okanogan to be scheduled in the future.” Newhouse, a Republican, represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District.
Newhouse will reschedule a listening session, which is similar to a Q&A, in Okanogan County when he is able to attend, but they currently have no sense for a date, said Boyington.