The Lyons High School government classes got a chance to ask questions of United States House of Representatives member Jared Polis last Thursday morning. On a short break from his duties in Washington D.C., Polis was making the rounds in Colorado’s Second District to find out what’s on his constituents’ minds. The students gave him an earful.
After Representative Polis gave a brief biography of himself, touched on the basic structure of the U.S. government, and covered his job description and duties, he opened it up to questions from the students. The students asked question about some of the recent hot button issues like expanded background checks for gun sales, reduction of the national debt,
entitlement programs, and immigration. They asked about the worst part of the job (the fourteen hour weekly commute between D.C. and Boulder), and the best part (being in a position to enact laws and influence policy, which make the country a better place). They asked about his salary ($174,000.00), the best way to get into a career in politics (start by getting involved in something you’re passionate about locally), and about partisanship and party politics in Washington. One student wanted to know why 97% of incumbents won re-election, when Congress only has a 15% approval rating, and if maybe term-limits would be a good idea. Polis said he wouldn’t be opposed to term-limits, but thought that was a small piece of the solution, and that redistricting reform to prevent blatant political gerrymandering was a bigger issue. Then the questions hit a little closer to home. There were questions about how to reduce the costs for higher education, student loans, affirmative action when it comes to college admittance, and municipal control over fracking regulations.
Between the two sessions, Polis spoke with close to a hundred students, and it would be difficult to say who got more out of it, the students or the Congressman.