Email #64, Subject: “Buddy the Eagle”?

I received a letter from you on January 31, listing the “recent stops” you’d made in the 6th district. They included: Liberty University’s indoor track facility (“It’s quite impressive!”); a high school English class in Chelsea Academy in Front Royal (“I enjoyed spending time with these bright, young students!”); the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro (“Buddy the Eagle is one of the better known residents.”); and AMG Manufacturing, Inc. in Lynchburg (“They manufacture a wide variety of products, including new extendable trailers.”).

As a constituent of the 6th district, I’m pleased to see that my Representative spends time here and not just up in DC. That’s why I’m so confused why your staffers keep insisting that you are much too busy to schedule a visit in Lexington, VA. I have called and emailed multiple times requesting either a private meeting, a conference room meeting that could include a small number of fellow voters, or a town hall that could accommodate a large number. I spoke to Jennifer Faulkner, your district scheduler in Roanoke, and she assured me that she would do everything she could, including calling me back after two weeks to report her progress. She didn’t call me back. Debbie Garrett in your Staunton office took down the email addresses for a room full of concerned constituents, assuring us that she would pass on our meeting requests to you. I’ve received no response emails.

Why is it you can make time for Buddy the Eagle but not us? You’ve been in office since 1992. When was the last time you visited Lexington? If you won’t come here, would you at least hold a town hall in Roanoke or Staunton or Waynesboro? I would even drive up to Harrisonburg or over the mountain to Lynchburg if that was more convenient for you.

But I’m told you haven’t held a town hall anywhere since 2013. You’ve gone for more than a term and a half without giving your own constituents an opportunity to talk with you. Why are you avoiding us? What are you afraid of? How can you represent people who you won’t even look in the face? You are our elected Representative. You work for the entire 6th district. We have a right to meet with you.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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