U. S. Rep. Julia Brownley was peppered with a wide range of questions and concerns from constituents who spoke with the freshman congresswoman during a meet-and-greet event in Moorpark on Tuesday.
From new learning standards in the classroom to matters of national security, Brownley, 60, answered questions on a variety of topics from residents during a Coffee with Your Congresswoman event at the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 27.
The noontime event also gave residents a chance to speak with Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.
Brownley, who will run for reelection in 2014, said the meeting allows her to connect with the Moorpark community in a more personal way.
“My job right now is not to think about my reelection in 2014 but to represent the people in Ventura County,” she said.
Brownley said such meetings give her a better understanding of the community’s needs.
“The beauty of Ventura County is that it is a wonderfully diverse community with lots of varied opinions,” she said. “Hearing those opinions is very, very helpful and to build common threads of what people are thinking.”
Eddie Byrn attended the event with his wife Sharon. The 65-year-old Moorpark resident said he discussed immigration with Brownley.
“Our immigration system is broken,” Byrn said. “There are people out there in the world who still actually apply and wait their turn to come here, and there are other people who do not. . . I’d like to kick them out.”
Byrn said Brownley was sensitive to his concerns.
“They’re working on it,” he said.
Thomas Nelson attended the event to share his disapproval of Brownley’s decision to vote against Rep. Justin Amash’s proposal to strip funding from a National Security Agency program which collects the telephone records of U.S. citizens.
The 60-year-old Moorpark resident said the practice of tracking people electronically without a warrant is a “crime against the republic” that violates citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights.
“I’m very upset about this,” said Nelson, a freelance computer graphics designer. “I can jump up and down and (complain) on the street corner, but if I don’t talk to (my representatives) directly, it doesn’t matter.”
Nelson said he will continue to stay in contact with Brownley’s office.
Melissa Zawrotny brought her two young children, whom she homeschools, to the event.
“I’m very pleased that this was offered,” she said. “This is their school today.”
The Moorpark resident said she is concerned that the implementation of Common Core, a new curriculum intended to improve students’ understanding of English language arts and math, will hinder her right to educate her children at home.
“I have my suspicions about it,” Zawrotny said. “I worry that more government intervention, federal, state, and local, will eventually eradicate my right to educate my children in any way that I wish.”
Zawrotny said Brownley’s background in education made her knowledgeable on the new set of curriculum.
“She said Common Core allows teachers to go deeper into a subject matter,” Zawrotny she said. “I’m still concerned (about its effects) but it made me feel better.”
Dale Parvin, a member of Rotary Club of Moorpark, said he planned to discuss his traffic concerns with Brownley.
“We’d like to see some federal funding for the widening of the 118 freeway between Moorpark and Simi Valley,” said Parvin, the husband of Mayor Janice Parvin. “It’s become a traffic nightmare out there for commuters.”
The 69-year-old Moorpark resident said Brownley is extremely approachable.
“ I think everyone should know their elected officials,” he said. “She’s our representative and I respect that.”
Sheriff Geoff Dean said he had conversations on traffic, firearms and other safety topics with residents.
“I’m just here as a resource,” he said. “It’s great that the congresswoman will take the time to come and talk to people.” Brownley said she considered the event a success.
“We found the opportunity (to visit Moorpark) and just took it,” she said.
And although the Democrat said she was “ very pleased” with the turnout, she apologized for the late notice and said those who were unable to attend the coffee are welcome to contact her office with their questions and concerns.
“Next time, we’ll give people more notice,” she said. “We want to hear you.”
Issues: 113th Congress, Local Issues