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New state senator begins teleconferences

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Fayette County residents who have been getting phone calls from this area’s new state senator may have been a little leery about the true identity of the caller or confused about why Kyle McCarter would be calling them.

But McCarter is, indeed, offering the invitations to participate in teleconferences, as a way of getting a feel for the wants, needs and opinions of his constituents.

McCarter, the Lebanon Republican who began serving the 51st District after Frank Watson stepped down, said he got the idea of holding regular teleconferences with constituents from some fellow lawmakers who have had success with that venue.

“I invite people to be involved in a teleconference that allows the people to be live with me for about an hour,” he said.

“Someone asks a question, it comes up on my computer, and then they go live online,” he said.

“In that one hour (during the first teleconference), we had 2,908 people participating. That’s one of the best responses we’ve had for this type of thing, at least from what I’ve heard from other senators,” McCarter said.

“I like the format, and this is something that I’d like to do as often as once a month,” he said. “This tells the people that we’re not afraid to handle questions and that we want to hear from them.

“It really gives the people an opportunity to be involved in what we’re doing here in Springfield,” he said. “It also allows us to do some polling; we had three polls with our first teleconference.

“With the polls, we ask a question, and the callers punch a number to give their responses. I can see immediately on the computer screen what their feelings are,” he said.

“I see this as a great opportunity,” McCarter said. “Technology such as this should lend itself to better representation for my constituents.”

So far, he’s seen only one problem with the teleconferences – everybody who wished to participate didn’t get to join in.

“We had 60-70 people who didn’t get through, and I’m calling these people to explain that, and to encourage them to continue participating in this,” he said.

After the teleconference is concluded, McCarter gets a complete report of what transpired during that one-hour period. The report on the first teleconference showed that at one point during that hour, 408 people were involved in the conference.

“One of the things I like about it is that I’m not just asking for Republicans to participate. In fact, I have no idea which party the participants support.

“It gives a chance to hear from all people, whether they are a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or a Green Party supporter,” he said.

McCarter is keeping a list of those who participate and wish to participate, and said those interested in getting involved may do so by visiting his Web site, www.senatormccarter.com.

In addition to holding the teleconferences, McCarter is planning to burn up the phone lines to get input from business owners in his district.

“I’m calling businesses to find out how they feel about legislation that is before us,” he said.

“I can get a really raw opinion of how they feel really quick by calling them,” McCarter said.

“That’s one way to show the business owners that I – and other legislators – are trying to be really sensitive to what we do and how that can affect them,” he said.