Tour through Louisiana brings a variety of residents

June 12, 2009 at 9:28 pm Leave a comment

*published June 12, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

A group of friends were reunited Wednesday when the Organizing for America listening tour came through Lake Charles.

Most of the group met during the presidential campaign, and about a dozen people showed up at the law office of Michael McHale, head of the Calcasieu Parish Democratic Party.

Steven Walker, state director for OFA, said the group evolved from the Obama campaign but is now issuefocused.

‘‘The main priorities right now are health care reform, education and clean energy,’’ Walker said. ‘‘This is also about civic engagement.’’

The nonpartisan aspect of the organization is important to Walker and most of the attendees.

‘‘These issues are without party, racial identity or agenda,’’ Walker said. ‘‘If you don’t have health care, you don’t have health care — period.’’

Louisiana is facing about $90 million in heath care cuts in the Legislature as part of the effort to make up for the state revenue shortfalls.

Walker said the listening tour was for him, as state director, to come and hear the mixed group.

He said he wanted them to tell him what Louisiana issues they feel need to be talked about in the national arena and to talk overall about what they hope the organization can provide.

Howard Foreman of Vinton talked about his personal experience with high health insurance costs.

‘‘Things are always changing, but we have to decide to try to change things to benefit us,’’ Foreman said.

Mary Werner with the Democratic 7th Congressional District said there was a lot of hype that fueled the partisan splits, but she said talking about specific issues may change that.

Henry Furgo said he was glad to see the president’s attempt to re-establish the country as a moral authority in foreign policy.

Ray Schultz talked about his concern for younger generations. The World War II veteran and lifelong Republican said the war in Iraq was the turning point for him.

‘‘I just fell apart when I saw what we were sending our young people into,’’ he said.

Tim Garnet of Kinder said he just wanted to see improvements in the country overall and that he knew the president was trying to do that.

OFA meetings are being held across the country, and the group is in it’s early stages. But according to barackobama.com, it will continue employing the grassroots approach used during the campaign.

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