Pike: ‘I was exactly where I should have been’

Last Wednesday, I saw a headline over the top of a 1,100-plus word opinion piece that asked, “Where was Rep. Liz Pike?”

In the article, Camas resident Jim Fisher admonished me for attending a Memorial Day service at the Fern Prairie Cemetery on May 23. He said I should have been at a teacher/education town hall meeting hosted by Sen. Ann Rivers and Rep. Brandon Vick. Mr. Fisher, who admits he did not attend the May 23 meeting, speculates that I was avoiding teachers.

I am more than happy to tell readers of this newspaper why I attended the Memorial Day service that morning.

The education/teacher town hall meeting was an event coordinated and hosted exclusively by Sen. Ann Rivers and Rep. Brandon Vick. While they are my seatmates, we do not always attend the same meetings. Different invitations and responsibilities take us to different places throughout the 18th District.

I am one of the most approachable and accessible elected officials in Southwest Washington. Over the past three years, I have participated in 13 town halls and have held three open houses at my Camas district office, the latest one this past Friday. Everyone is always welcome.

I’ve also hosted local teachers at four separate “Education Kitchen Cabinet” meetings to better understand their concerns. I have accepted many invitations from teachers to visit their classrooms, among them Endeavor Elementary, River HomeLink, the Clark County Skills Center, Tukes Valley elementary and middle schools, Ridgefield High School, Hathaway Elementary School, Liberty Middle School and Muckleshoot schools.

I have met with more teachers than any other constituent group, having visited personally with more than 100 teachers in the local community, in my office and at the 13 previous town hall meetings I’ve held throughout the 18th District.

My door is always open. I have read letters and emails from teachers, and have taken their phone calls on these latest budget negotiations. I have a firm understanding of their concerns. In a May 15 e-newsletter, (which can be found at www.representativelizpike.com, I assured teachers that “we are working very hard within all budget proposals on the table to ensure teachers receive cost-of-living adjustments in the new budget cycle.”

On May 23, I was where I should have been; paying my respects to our fallen soldiers at Fern Prairie Cemetery and honoring their service and sacrifice to our nation. It is because of the selfless sacrifice of our men and women in uniform that we have the ability to meet freely, publicly and openly share our viewpoints in a free press. I was honored to represent the 18th District at the service.

There are many days throughout the year when anyone can bring me their concerns. Ask any of our living veterans: Is it not the right thing to take at least one day of the year to honor their fallen brethren? I make no apologies for attending the service. Indeed, it was the right thing to do.

Instead of making assumptions, I hope residents choose a more direct approach of communication. I am accessible to everyone who wishes to talk with me. I encourage all citizens to do so.

My Camas office remains open Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is (360) 210-4534. My website is: www.representativelizpike.com and my e-mail address is: liz.pike@leg.wa.gov.

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, serves the 18th Legislative District. She is a member of the House Transportation Committee, the House Environment Committee and the House Local Government Committee.