Representative Katrina Shankland and Senator Julie Lassa held their office hours on Stevens Point City busses this week, giving them a chance to interact with local residents they might not normally get to speak with.
The two politicians were invited to ride the busses by Susan Lempke, the transit manager for the City of Stevens Point.
“We wanted to offer something different for the community,” Lempke said. “I thought it would be a fun opportunity for bus riders to have the chance to speak with legislators who work to continue supporting the funding for the transit program. And in addition to that it provided an opportunity those who are wishing to communicate with Senator Lassa or Representative Shankland.”
Lassa and Shankland travelled along two different bus routes, the Rice Street and Dixon Street Route and the Campus Connection Route. They rode each route for 30 minutes.“There were quite a few people on the bus and they had the opportunity to speak with their representatives,” Lempke said. “Everyone had a good time and it was a successful event.”
Though few people were there to explicitly speak with Lassa and Shankland, everyone took an interest in their presence.
“People are surprised to see us but mostly seem really happy that we are on the bus,” Lassa said. “Even if they have no specific topic to discuss they are just happy to talk to us.”
Riding the different routes gave the legislators a chance to hear the questions and comments from not only the long time community members, but also from the students who use the Campus Connection bus.
“They can really hear a student’s perspective better,” said Brandon Loging, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “It’s nice to see them interacting with us and trying to get our opinions.”
Shankland and Lassa interacted with the students riding the bus, asking them what they were going to school for, how they were managing to pay for tuition, and what they could do to make things easier on students.
Lassa mentioned the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act that would allow students to refinance student loans. It is currently being considered by the state and she asked students if they thought this would helpful.
“I know a lot of people are in debt and this would be an easier transition for them,” said Zack Lentz, a UWSP student.
Lassa and Shankland hope to come to UWSP in the near future to have discussion about the bill that will allow students to refinance their student loans.
Lassa mentioned that office hours are normally held in libraries, universities or other public places,but the bus ride office hours were a first.
“I thought this sounded like a really unique opportunity. It has been a really good experience,” Lassa said. She mentioned that she would like to do it again sometime.
“It’s something that we did years ago and that was successful as well so I decided to try it again,” Lemkpe said. “It is something that I would like to revisit in the future.”