House District 96 Representative Kathy Hinkle says that as a freshman representative she knows she still has a lot to learn about where her constituents want her to focus her attention, and she isn't alone.

She said other freshmen representatives are also looking to hear directly from the people they were elected to serve. That's why they've decided to participate in what they are calling the Commonwealth Caucus, a forum started by Representative Cherlynn Stevenson as a bipartisan event to reach out to communities across Kentucky.

“As freshman representatives, we feel like nobody is reaching out to the citizens,” Hinkle said.

The Commonwealth Caucus changes that by allowing citizens to ask questions directly of their representatives, and to have them answered in real time.

“It's mostly talking to people,” she said. “Seeing what their interests are. A lot of people don't know where to get answers. So, we're answering those questions. Or, if we don't know, we'll go and find the answers.”

Hinkle said the forum allows citizens to use 3X5 note cards to write down their questions, that way they can ask anonymously if they like.

A moderator will read the questions off of the note cards and the representatives present, four to five at each event, will hold a round table discussion on the topics broached.

“We're there to answer questions and to hear suggestions,” she said. “I just feel like it's a way to get out in our communities and see what people want. I feel that isn't done enough.”

She said it seems especially important for those in the eastern and far western portions of the state, where she feels citizens are often “getting left out” of the conversation in Frankfort.

The event is open to the public and will take place on Oct. 17 starting at 6 p.m. at the IKORCC Hall, 574 Carpenters Way, Grayson.

“I'm not sure we'll have all the answers that people need,” she said. “But maybe it's an idea that we can take back (to Frankfort) with us.”

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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