We believe strongly that elected officials should be responsive to all of their constituents, regardless of party affiliation and regardless of voting history.
We also believe that a free press is vital to our system of government, and that the media serves a crucial role in holding our elected leaders accountable to their constituents.
In this week’s paper, you’ll find a story about Congressman John R. Carter, U.S. Representative for the 31st Congressional District of Texas. Carter’s district includes Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, and parts east and north of here.
In the course of our efforts to report on the various candidates for that office for the upcoming primaries, which was originally intended to include a profile on Carter as the incumbent candidate seeking re-election, we ran into a bit of a roadblock attempting to reach the Congressman for comment.
We learned that we were not alone in that experience, and that many of his challengers are basing their campaigns largely upon their accusation that Congressman Carter has been isolated and unresponsive. We find that very concerning.
We don't undertake a news story critical of any elected official lightly, especially here where Congressman Carter has received such strong support over the years. That’s why we went to unusual lengths to give the Congressman plenty of opportunity to respond to our calls and requests for interview.
On 15 separate occasions dating back to early June, a representative from this newspaper tried to reach Congressman Carter through his office, to no avail. Despite speaking regularly with his staff, it eventually became obvious that he was not interested in responding to us.
That led us to contact a number of other local newspapers within the 31st Congressional District. Four of them reported the same experience, each noting that Carter’s staff are friendly, but that it seems apparent that he has no intention of giving interviews or responding to questions critical to his position on the issues facing residents of the district.
We’ve reported the story, including the comments of those critical of Carter’s lack of accessibility, as well as those supporting him, including the local Republican Party chair. We don’t make any judgement about whether Carter has done a good job in representing the 31st Congressional District. Just that, he and all other elected representatives, should be accessible and responsive to their constituents.
Elected leaders should be willing to listen to the voices of all of their constituents.