U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman can't make it to El Dorado himself every time a constituent has an issue at the federal level, but, in an effort to give local residents access to the congressman, his field representatives are setting up mobile offices throughout the Fourth Congressional District this month.
On Wednesday, field rep Yancey Kyle hosted mobile offices in El Dorado and Smackover.
"It's just our attempt at making us more accessible, so that if anyone has any issues with any federal program whatsoever – you know, most typically it's Social Security, IRS, passport issues – then we're in a place that's a lot easier for them to come access," Kyle said. "We come to them instead of them having to find out how to track us down."
By about 11:30 Wednesday morning, Kyle said he'd spoken to about a dozen constituents at the Union County Courthouse. Wednesday afternoon, he headed to Smackover to hold a mobile office at City Hall.
"Our decision was to try to hit different places throughout each county, so that we are as accessible as possible. Here in Union County, you've got several other municipalities you can go to ... so we kind of went through and picked, what are the places that are most frequently visited, where are your pockets of population," he said.
Kyle said generally, the issues Westerman's constituents need help with are related to different bureaucracies within the federal government.
"At the constituent level, the individual level, if someone's having an issue with their Social Security benefits, or any issues with Veteran's Affairs, IRS, passports – those are the most frequent constituent cases that we get," he said. "And also, field representatives serve to assist municipalities, counties, economic development commissions."
Union County was the 10th stop on the current mobile office tour, which Kyle said will hit all 33 counties in the Fourth District.
"I've got 11 counties down here. And so, the goal is we're going to hit every county in the district by the end of next week," Kyle said. "That way, before the holiday season starts and people are more focused on the more important stuff, they can come talk to us about it."
And mobile office hours will be regular for Westerman going forward, Kyle said.
"We'll continue doing these; this isn't just a one-off," he said. "I do anticipate us making this a more regular happening, again, so at least people will get the word that, 'okay, I've had this problem, he's going to be here next month.' ... This will be a continuing project that we keep doing."
As for the Congressman himself, Kyle said he is busy at work in Washington.
"His focus, obviously, you know, the priority being chairmanship of the Natural Resource Committee," Kyle said. "As far as legislation, as you read every day, obviously they're working hard to figure out funding mechanisms and how that, procedurally, how that's going to look. But his focus right now is the process."
Kyle also has a permanent office at the Union County Courthouse, where he can be reached at 870-864-8946.
Westerman filed for re-election on Monday. He does not currently have a challenger, though the filing period will remain open through Nov. 14.