In January, 2011, Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and six others where killed during a meet-and-greet event for her constituents. On Saturday, her elected replacement, Democrat Ron Barber, held the exact same event. The format was the same, the ‘Congress on Your Corner’ name was the same, and it was held in front of a grocery store—just like Gabby’s last time.
A former Giffords’ aide, Barber was one of thirteen people wounded in the 2011 shooting, hit in both the face and leg. He gave advance notice of the event to the other survivors and invited them to attend. Several took him up on the offer. Afterwards, Barber said, “It was challenging but I felt that it was essential to do this.”
‘Congress On Your Corner’ was scheduled to last for an hour and a half, but with 300 people standing in line, enduring temperatures well over 100 degrees in order to talk to their Congressman, the time was extended to three hours. Tucson resident and attendee Barbara Grey remarked, “It’s showing that Tucson is not going to be fearful of anything.”
During her tenure, Giffords held 21 of these gatherings. Barber has every intention of continuing the tradition. “You cannot serve the people of Southern Arizona, or any district, if you don’t hear what they have to say, and this is one of the best ways to do it,” he said. Some of the questions his constituents raised were about veterans issues, student loans, border security, the economy, and environmental protection.
Unlike on previous occasions, the presence of uniformed and non-uniformed police officers was evident. However, safety was not the main concern on the minds of those who attended. They were focused on how to get on with their lives and how their new Congressman—sworn in just four days earlier—could help them do so. On Saturday, Barber took one giant step in that direction.