With the Covid-19 virus roiling financial markets, creating staggering unemployment numbers, and people tiring of stay-at-home orders, I reached out to several local individuals to share their experiences.
Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th district in Congress. A former Marine and county supervisor, I have known Salud for more than ten years. During that time, I have observed him at a variety of social functions. First and foremost he listens. No, he really listens and he responds to people, even those who binge-talk.
His other quality is an authentic concern, not only for his constituents but the American public. In January, I asked about his decision-making as a legislator.
“My process begins by asking a few questions of myself:
“How will this impact my district, the people I represent?
“How will this legislation impact the state: good, bad or indifferent?
“Finally, is it in keeping with my values? I would never do anything that was not ethical or not part of my own values.
“There’s always room for compromise,” Carbajal stressed. “It’s working with others to find common ground. That’s what legislators do. That’s what people expect us to do in our democracy.”
Like the rest of us, the congressman and his staff are weathering the crisis by working from home.
“This pandemic has changed the way I reach out and connect with constituents, officials and other local stakeholders,” Carbajal said.
“I continue serving constituents in the safest way possible. My offices in California and D.C. have been working remotely, and we now have a system in place where constituents can leave a voicemail and a member of our team responds to those voicemails every hour.
“We continue to be available to constituents online (Carbajal.house.gov), where we have a coronavirus resources website in English and Spanish. We’ve transitioned to tele-townhall meetings to get out important information on small business resources, assistance for seniors, and coronavirus help and updates. Additionally, we’ve been enhancing our use of social media as another way to connect.
“Though in-person meetings have been changed to video conferences, calls and emails, I’m in constant contact with local leaders, community members, business owners, and health officials to ensure the Central Coast’s needs continue to be addressed.
“It’s interesting to see what airports have been like when I’ve traveled back to D.C. to pass the coronavirus relief bills which have now become law. There were hardly any people and, while we are working to help the air travel industry who are facing their own economic challenges, I was heartened to see that people were taking public health guidance seriously and traveling only when necessary.
“On a personal level, in compliance with our state’s stay-at-home order, I’m spending much more time at home with my wife and conducting work with my cat and co-worker Peeps.
“I remain grateful for everyone who is doing their part to keep our community safe, and I am so grateful for the frontline essential workers who are keeping our nation running. I will continue advocating for their health and safety in Congress.”
More responses next week.