Yesterday afternoon new US Congresswoman Jaime Herrera hosted a town hall meeting at Hilltop Auditorium to listen to public comment and debate on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge's proposed plan for changes on the Willapa Bay. The face of the refuge is Charlie Stenvall, a nice guy who I've always liked doing stories with, but was not the most popular guy in a room full of people with their own ideas about why the plan was bad, especially for hunters.
Despite some really nasty weather, the room was about half full, mostly by older men who were opposed to the plan due to the fact that it would possibly effect their ability to hunt ducks and geese by breaching dikes on the south side of the bay (you could tell by all the shirts and hats with waterfowl emblazoned on them). One of the speakers on the panel said that despite the fact that respected wildlife biologists had reported that what is proposed is best for the long-term health of the bay, his response was, "I just don't believe it." This sort of short-sided view concerning the ability to hunt now rather than what is best long-term was a view shared by many who spoke.
The meeting was the first major public event on the Peninsula for Herrera, who was sworn into office earlier this year. I have to say that I was surprised that she wasn't a bit more prepared, as she actually had a staffer sitting behind her on stage passing her notes. I don't know that I've ever seen that before. I agree that she's still new to the job, but IMO, she's got some polishing to do when it comes to public speaking.