Senators’ absence draws questions

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Members of North Idaho Indivisible visit U.S Sen. Jim Risch’s office Tuesday evening to voice their concerns over a lack of response to requests made for a public town hall meeting in the region. (LOREN BENOIT/Hagadone News Network)

COEUR d'ALENE — Where in the world are U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo?

That question was on the minds of — and displayed on handmade signs by — about 20 members of North Idaho Indivisible, who visited the Coeur d'Alene offices of both Republican senators Tuesday afternoon. The group has been in the offices of the senators each Tuesday for more than a month, and voiced their concerns at a lack of response to requests made for a public town hall meeting in the region.

"They're missing. They don't want to show up here," said Donna Blaine, a Post Falls resident. "We're just average people trying to get answers about things that are very important to us."

Some of the signs displayed by the group said "Missing Have You Seen This Man? Crapo?" and "WANTED Senators Crapo + Risch." During the office meeting, residents also asked questions about how the elected officials feel regarding moves made by President Donald Trump's administration and filled out "opinion forms" to send directly to the legislators.

Of particular note to the group during the meeting was the fact that this week has been marked in the congressional calendar as a "district work period."

"If they're not doing anything like a town hall during this time, they should not be getting paid by the taxpayers," said Suzanne Marshall of Coeur d'Alene. "And I don't think fundraising should count as work."

Another Coeur d'Alene resident, Gary Edwards, told The Press that in the past he was able to successfully have in-person conversations with elected representatives such as former Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, when he visited the nation's capital. However, on Tuesday, Edwards was only able to discuss his concerns about Trump's ability to serve as president with staffers of his local congressmen.

"We want a town hall," Edwards added. "We want to speak face-to-face with them."

Sid Smith, Risch's regional director, told The Press there are currently no plans to hold a town hall meeting in the region.

"But we've been hosting these meetings every Tuesday for a month now," Smith added.

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