PARSONS - Elected officials and local residents gathered Wednesday at Little Andi's Restaurant in Parsons to ask questions during the Commonsense Connections tour forum with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's staff.
Peggy Hawse, regional coordinator for Manchin, D-W.Va., led the discussion in Parsons. Hawse said meetings were also held in Grant and Hardy counties Wednesday.
"Sen. Manchin has always believed in the power of open and accessible government," Hawse said. "As a small business owner, he believes that elected officials should serve the people, provide outstanding customer service and offer an open line of communications with all of their constituents. That is why I am here today and why other staff members from Sen. Manchin's office are crisscrossing the state meeting with folks."
Hawse said Commonsense Connections is an initiative allowing Manchin's staff members to travel and bring government directly to the people.
"This is the sixth time the senator has dispatched his staffers across the state and every time we hear excellent feedback from the people of West Virginia that we bring back directly to the senator," Hawse said. "This is your government, your voice, so we need and truly want to hear from you."
Hawse said she enjoys meeting with the public during the forums.
"I try to chose a diversity of meeting places, including senior centers, restaurants and libraries," Hawse said. "I try to mix it up some."
Parsons Mayor Dorothy Judy asked if Manchin is considering running for West Virginia's governor's seat again.
"He has said that it is on the table, but he is considering all of his options," Hawse said. "That is his official statement, and that is all we have been told."
Questions were also raised about how to better care for veterans and assure they have access to all their benefits. Inquiries were also made about the use of buildings in Sugar Grove Station, which is operated by the National Security Agency. Hawse agreed those were good questions, and she had those attending write the questions down to be hand-delivered to Manchin.
"I just want to thank the senator for sending his staff to Tucker County," said Tucker County Commissioner Lowell Moore. "It was a great honor to have his representatives visit Tucker County to discuss state, local and federal issues."
Judy said she appreciated Wednesday's visit.
"We appreciate his concern with our affairs," Judy said. "Being a little town, it is wonderful that he sends someone here to take care of our problems and we appreciate it. The real key is, Sen. Manchin does listen to us."