The town hall meeting at Yamhill County by Senator Ron Wyden was generally ordinary and unexceptional, itself a bit of news after what happened to another member of Congress speaking to constituents a week ago in Tucson. Wyden said at the outset that continuing these events - he does one every year in every county - is important especially after that. "We're just going to have some democracy," he said.
And so it went for the 100-plus people in Melrose Hall at Linfield College in McMinnville, a somewhat smaller group than the year before. Part of the reason may have been the rainy weather. Another may have been the absence of anything resembling the Tea Party. The questions and comments were serious and sometimes intense, covering a broad field (widely through domestic matters though not touching on foreign policy), but it was mostly all practical. Ideology and theories of the constitution, and conspiracy theory accusations, didn't make an appearance.
Practical, specific talk did, though. The first question came from the mayor of McMinnville, who wanted to know about the future of the long-awaited Dundee bypass (creating an alternate route for Highway 99 in eastern Yamhill County, a stretch that often turns into a parking lot.) Wyden held out some hope for the funding, and said it was top priority for transportation funding in the state.
Health care came up a few times, and Wyden said he would put much of his efforts into the bill he has co-sponsored with Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, to give states quicker and broader ability to develop their own health care proposals. (That may have special pertinence in Oregon.)
Jobs, or lack of them, and illegal immigration were linked together a few times, and Wyden spoke of legislation he supports on both subjects. He spoke too about campaign finance, and the "the malevolent influence of money in America," with criticism of the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision. (Typical of his county town halls, though, there was no partisan talk.)
It was a town hall a lot like Oregonians saw before last year.
(A note: Please excuse the video quality: This was a first experimental video via Ipod Touch.)