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Bonamici talks Iran, education at town hall

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici greets citizens during her visit to Centro Cultural in Cornelius Monday evening. Bonamici spent an hour answering questions from constituents.About 50 citizens turned out Monday night in Cornelius to ask questions of and share their opinions with U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.)

Bonamici stopped at Centro Cultural on a six-city sweep of her first congressional district before returning to Washington, D.C., Sept. 8.

“It’s going to be a busy September,” she told the audience, referring to the work Congress has ahead, as well as Pope Francis’ historic address to the joint session of Congress on Sept. 24.

On the minds of many is the looming decision on the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran. Bonamici has not made a decision on how she will vote, she said, and is “still asking questions.” She polled the audience on whether or not they supported the Iran deal, and the vote was about evenly split.

“I still have a lot of questions. Questions like what if the U.S. rejects the agreement,” while other nations support it, she said.

“I support a diplomatic approach to Iran,” said Clark Brooks. “Without an agreement, a nuclear Iran is a couple of months away.”

Commander Douglas Lund of VFW Post 2666 in Hillsboro spoke on behalf of veterans in western Washington County who do not support the Iran deal or lifting monetary sanctions on “a sworn enemy of the United States.”

“The sanctions were designed to affect the government (of Iran),” Bonamici countered. “It’s affecting families too.”

Other issues on the minds of Bonamici’s constituents included veterans’ accessibility to health care, disaster preparedness in Oregon, high-stakes testing in public schools, and the killing of thousands of double-crested cormorants on East Sand Island in the Columbia River, currently underway by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“You don’t treat life this way,” said one man, adding that the Army Corps received 115,000 comments against the plan. “They ignored it. That’s not (government) transparency to me,” he said.

Forest Grove resident Lucinda Hites-Claybaugh called the scientific research into killing cormorants to save salmon “ridiculous.”

Bonamici said she wants to focus her efforts on securing FEMA funds for disaster preparedness. “If we invest more in resilience planning and preparation beforehand, that’s the kind of investment that saves money,” she said.

In addition, she hopes to work at the federal level to “get away from high-stakes testing and back to a well-rounded education.”