Weekly Columns

When I was a young man, Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt was setting the standard for constituent service in Arkansas. He responded to every letter, listened to every Arkansan and helped in every way he could. 

When I first decided to run for Congress, I sought John Paul out for counsel. The best piece of advice he gave me was that after the election is over, there are no more Republicans, no more Democrats, only the people of Arkansas. I have never forgotten what he told me; as their representative, you have a responsibility to help. 

During John Paul’s time in Congress, the ways that people had to communicate with his office were pretty limited. For the most part they could visit the office, write a letter or call on the phone. Despite that, he managed to help an enormous number of people with their problems involving the federal government. 

Today, my office fields incoming requests from countless sources. Arkansans contact me by phone, fax, email, social media, tele-townhall meetings and even via the occasional hand-written letter. Since many of the issues my staff and I deal with are very personal to the people involved, it is often important to be able to sit down and visit one on one. 

When I was elected the U.S. Senate, I wanted to ensure my office was as accessible as possible. Instead of putting my staff in one large office, we created seven small field offices staffed with people who live in the communities they serve to help me truly understand the needs of Arkansans across the state. My goal was to provide the best possible constituent service and be easily accessible to anyone who wanted to visit my office in person. However, for many people, these offices are still an hour or two away. 

To combat this problem, my staff hits the road to host “mobile offices” in communities that are not near our Arkansas offices. This helps ensure anyone who wants to voice concerns or has a problem with the federal government has an opportunity to do so. We have set up office hours in senior centers, courthouses, community rooms, banks, chambers of commerce, colleges, libraries, community health clinics, food banks and many other locations in communities, large and small, across the Natural State. 

As of this month we have conducted 100 of these mobile office events and we will continue to do many more. It is important that the people of Arkansas are heard and receive the help they need. 

I have a great staff that works to help navigate the often-confusing federal agencies. While I cannot override the decisions made by a federal agency, I can often intervene to answer questions, find solutions or just cut through the red tape. 

No matter what major legislative crisis we are facing, my goal is to make each constituent who is having trouble with a federal agency or a concern about policy a priority. I will continue to bring my “mobile offices” to communities across the state and hope to see you when we are near you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and our great state in Washington.