Loudoun residents who turned out for U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-10th) town meeting on Saturday kept bringing up the Iraqi war.
"I don't know if a single war protester agreed with Saddam Hussein," said Gina Faber of Hamilton, one of about 15 residents to ask questions of Wolf during the hour-long meeting. About 40 people turned out for the event.
Faber said she did not agree with the method of the Iraqi war, since imminent danger did not present itself while the inspectors were in Iraq. "I do believe there is a time and a place for the country to defend itself," she said. "It seems our administration lost patience. ... Preventative war is not the answer."
Wolf had arrived about 15 minutes late to the meeting, delayed by a similar meeting in Fairfax County. He said he would hold the question-and-answer session right away, giving Faber and the other residents there more time to express their concerns.
"Town meetings are an opportunity for me to find out what is on the minds of the people of the 10th District," said Wolf in a separate statement.
LEESBURG RESIDENT Marlies Lersch, a grassroots activist, asked Wolf to support the Global Renaissance Alliance's lobbying effort to create a U.S. Department of Peace. The department is proposed to support peace-building policies and procedures and focus on nonmilitary and peaceful conflict resolutions.
"We can bring this into fruition," Lersch said, adding that the legislation for the proposed department would use 2 percent of the defense budget for its support. "Keep it here and help the people who live in this country."
Lersch asked Wolf how much constituent support he would need to support the legislation.
"I do what my conscience tells me," Wolf said in response, adding that he publishes a congressional newsletter listing his votes on the legislation brought before Congress. "I want people to know what I do. I will defend what I do."
Wolf said naming the department will not necessarily bring about peace. "I'll do whatever is in the best interest of democracy and my country," he said and agreed to look at Lersch's legislative information.
Other residents mentioned the Iraqi war. One resident said he was concerned that a victory in Iraq will justify the war and that Sierra will be next, again without Congressional debate, while another resident mentioned that America lacked support for the war from several factions.
"Syria is not next. We're not going into Syria," Wolf said, adding that Congress debated the issue and took a vote before entering into a state of war.
To respond to the second concern, Wolf said he was glad to see the peace demonstrations and that two points of view were presented as opposed to seeing apathy. "We have to be careful and allow this thing to take hold," he said. "We're not looking to stay. ... Our soldiers quote 'can't be the policemen.'"
ANOTHER RESIDENT questioned why last year's tax cuts benefited the wealthy. "We do need an economic stimulus in the country ... to get jobs created," Wolf said. "We have an economy that's pulling the rest of the world. Had we not passed the tax cuts last year, I think the situation would be worse. ... We need to do something to get people back to work."
Residents brought up their concerns with transportation issues, anti-abortion issues, violent video games and the Brady bill, which Wolf supports. A resident worried that Maryland was receiving more transportation funding than Virginia. Wolf said no, adding that Northern Virginia receives more funding than other regions and has received full funding for Metrorail.
Sterling resident Mark Gunderman, the last person to speak, commended Wolf for his support of the Good Shepherd Alliance (GSA) Walk-in Emergency Homeless Shelters. Wolf fulfilled the three promises he made last year during a visit to the private temporary shelters, which provide housing and food for Loudoun residents for up to 89 days.
Wolf endorsed GSA by distributing 200 letters to the business and faith communities, helped the organization obtain federal funding to upgrade the facilities, and provided six computers to support the shelters and central office.
"Your personal endorsement gives us the necessary credibility to outreach in our county and build homeless awareness in our community," Gunderman said. "For over 20 years, you have served our district with distinction and always with an awareness for those people in need. You truly are a champion for the common man."
WOLF HOSTED seven meetings during the tour April 11-12 at Warren County; Clarke County; and Frederick County/ City of Manassas on April 11 and at Fairfax County; Loudoun County; Prince William County/ City of Manassas/ Manassas Park; and Fauquier County on April 12.