In a "get acquainted" tour, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R.-4th District) paid a visit to the mayors of Bingen and White Salmon last Wednesday (April 16).
"Essentially, he spent 15-20 minutes to introduce himself and let me know he was there to start lines of communication," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel.
"He just wanted to meet everybody new to his district and say hi," added White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen.
During last year's redistricting, all of Klickitat County was shifted into the 4th District, which Hastings represents. Previously, the west end of the county was included in the 3rd District, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat.
Jessica Gleason, press secretary for Hastings, said the Wednesday morning visit had a basic theme.
"He was there to talk to the mayors and keep in touch with local officials," Gleason explained. "He wanted to get ideas for things he should be aware of, and things he should be working on."
According to Prigel, the two discussed several "general" topics -- the economy, the SR 14 construction project, and jurisdiction questions related to tribal trust lands.
"He seemed to be pretty friendly," Prigel said. "We didn't have time to get into lengthy discussions. Given that Brian Baird used to make an effort to do town hall meetings here at least once a year, it's good Hastings is making an effort at communication."
Holen pointed out that he asked Hastings for assistance in mitigating the recent loss of commercial land along the Columbia River to a new in-lieu fishing site for tribal members.
"We asked him to take another look at the whole business of the in-lieu site," Holen said. "There is still time to head it off at the pass without anyone getting hurt."
Holen also stressed the need to keep momentum going regarding the proposed new interstate bridge linking Hood River and Bingen.
"We're lobbying long and hard on that one," Holen said. "There is a concerted effort to keep the bridge in the minds of our politics representatives. It's a campaign of consciousness."
SDS Lumber Co. President Jason Spadaro said he briefly met with Hastings, who attended the annual Forestry Conference at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson on April 16.
"There was not much time to talk about issues," Spadaro said. However, Spadaro added that he hoped Hastings could arrange to return for a more lengthy stay in his next visit.
"I offered an invitation for him to come back and tour the mill," Spadaro said.
Holen said he was optimistic after Hastings' visit.
"I have every confidence he'll do what he can on our behalf," Holen said.