Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is on his "Listening to Oregon's Future Tour," visiting 11 high schools across the state. Students in Bend and Redmond had the opportunity Tuesday to ask the senator his opinion on the recent government shutdown, the future of our economy and higher education, among other topics.
The purpose? To open up a dialogue with young people across Oregon.
Students from Mountain View and Ridgeview high schools had the opportunity to talk to Wyden about important issues and early on, the senator was impressed.
“These were young people who were asking serious questions about the government, about our economic future, and how in particular you can bring people together,” Wyden said.
One Ridgeview student said she appreciated the senator taking the time for such a one-on-one experience.
“To me, it really showed that he had interest in our input and what we had to say about things that are going on,” Mackenzie Hidalgo said.
It didn't take long for students to start asking hard-hitting questions about the recent government shutdown.
Wyden said he doesn't believe another shutdown is on the horizon because the American people won't stand for it, especially here in Central Oregon.
“The consequences in Oregon is shutting down the outdoors,” Wyden said, “The hold on logging, for example, and the effects on our outdoor industry. Recreation is a huge part of the Oregon economy, certainly the Central Oregon economy.”
Ridgeview teacher Ben Parsons said students have felt jaded about the government after the shutdown, and that the senator's visit showed it's possible to have an open dialogue with elected officials.
“I think the students will have learned that they are listening,” Parsons said, “Senator Wyden sounded like he wanted to hear their opinion. He was really interested in what they had to say and is going to take that with him back to Washington D.C.”
Hidalgo shares the same sentiments as her teacher, but believes Tuesday was a step in the right direction -- it showed the government can be more closely tied to its people.
“People like Ron Wyden, who have interest in us and our inputs, I think, is something that's going to be able to translate into more teens being willing to trust in our government,” Hidalgo said.