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Reichert opens new office in downtown Auburn
U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Auburn, WA-District 8) showed up a few minutes late to the 10 a.m. grand opening of his Auburn office on Jan. 30.
But Reichert had a good reason
"Sorry it took me a few minutes to get in," the former King County Sheriff and former deputy explained, "but I got hung up talking to my old cop friends out there."
Local officials, business leaders, constituents and members of his own staff who'd been waiting got a good laugh out of it.
Then Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis stepped forward to welcome a local boy home.
"Having an office here does make a great deal of difference to our citizens, so we really do appreciate it," Lewis said.
Reichert said the new Auburn 8th District office is centrally located for convenient access to the whole community. The City rents the space to the Congressman for $75 a month.
The office – at 2 First St. SE in downtown Auburn – is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
Natasha Mayer, Reichert's former communications director, explained recently why the Congressman picked Auburn for one of his three offices. The others are in Issaquah and Wenatchee.
"Auburn is the largest city in the 8th, so opening an office there provides better access and gives constituents yet another option for contacting our office. It's really there to improve and expand outreach," Mayer said.
City officials took advantage of Reichert's proximity to bend his ear on matters of local and regional importance.
Auburn City Councilwoman Largo Wales asked for Reichert's help funding regional transportation projects, especially the extension of State Route 167.
Reichert noted that he has met many times with mayors in the valley and with regional business leaders to talk about SR-167. Given the importance of 167 especially to the Port of Tacoma, he said, taking some of the heat off of Interstate 5 and bringing it down into the valley where warehouses happen to be is "a wise vision" for the community.
He discussed one new possibility for funding: legislation that would allow a broader use of the harbor maintenance tax, bringing it off of port property and applying it to the infrastructure surrounding it.
Doing so, he said, would benefit not only the Port of Tacoma but also the entire area.
The challenge, Reichert said, will come from other ports throughout the country, which have different ideas about how to use the harbor maintenance tax.
"So, we'll have to push for an understanding of other port cities, that we may not need to dredge here — we don't — but we have other needs for the harbor maintenance tax, so at least a dialogue is started," Reichert said.
Ralph Ibarra, former diversity liaison for the City of Auburn, urged Reichert to take a leadership role in immigration reform.
"The issue has been languishing way too long," Reichert agreed. "I think there is a recognition now that the time is right, that people are ready. There's also a recognition that the entire immigration system is broken, so there needs to be a total reform of the immigration system.
"People need to know that there is a way to become a citizen, and they need to abide by that directive, that legislation and that law. I think there is a lot of agreement," Reichert said.