Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) who currently represents California's 1st District, sat down with 10 community stakeholders from Rohnert Park today at Sally Tomatoes to meet constituents from the .
Thompson, who aims to run in 2012, will lose parts of Sonoma County including Healdsburg, Cloverdale and Windsor, but pick up Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and the rest of Sonoma Valley.
"I'm anxious to get started — I'm trying to meet with folks in the new district, to hear about your concerns and issues," Thompson said.
The forum, informally moderated by former Rohnert Park City Councilman Tim Smith, raised questions that centered around national health care reform, President Barack Obama's newly-proposed American Jobs Act, increasing flexibility with No Child Left Behind requirements, pension reform and the fallout from the Great Recession.
Thompson said the one thing that hasn't been said about the jobs act is that "there are no silver bullets."
"This is going to be a heavy lift for everybody," he said."But it appears [Obama] is beginning to find his voice."
On the foreclosure crisis that continues to be a major part of the recession, Thompson said that "I think the regulatory process in place was lacking; I think greed played a huge factor and the global economy contributed to it greatly."
Susan Adams, a planning commissioner and longtime resident, asked Thompson what two or three laws he would enact immediately if he could
Thompson said he'd pass laws that help fix problems with mental illness and substance abuse.
"Those two issues — the spillover is just tremendous," he said. "I'm not sure if it can ever be quantified."
Thompson pointed to Aaron Bassler, the man wanted for two murders in Fort Bragg, as an example of the crux of the problem.
He also said he'd work on jobs and the economy by creating longterm infrastructure projects locally, as one example.
At the table for the discussion, in addition to Smith and Adams, were elected officials, small business owners, educators and local residents. Some included David McCuan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State University, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bonnie Black, Michael Newell, head of the, Rohnert Park resident Barbara Mackenzie and Councilman Amy Ahanotu.
Thompson spoke candidly, naturally fielding national questions that are difficult to answer, such as pension reform and the divide between republicans and democrats today.
Editor's note: Check out the new legislative districts and how they impact Rohnert Park in . Thompson was first elected to Congress in 1998 and has won all six campaigns since. Did you vote for him? If so, we'd love to hear why or why not in the comments.