By Lili Stapel
Rep. Chuck Edwards began his term serving Western North Carolina in the U.S. House on Jan. 3. As part of his efforts to fulfill campaign promises, the District 11 Republican has made a running start in providing a variety of constituent services.
Constituent services are offered by all congressional offices to assist those who live in their districts. Whether it be through referrals to federal agencies, Social Security or veterans benefit applications, internships, business grants or policy concerns, Edwards and his staff say they’re ready to help WNC residents.
Those efforts faced initial challenges when Madison Cawthorn, Edwards’ Republican predecessor, failed to pass along his files of existing cases before leaving office. But Edwards is hopeful for the future, as dozens of constituents with open cases under Cawthorn have already reached out to continue the process.
Xpress spoke with Edwards in the latest installment of our “WTF?” feature — Want the Facts — to learn more about what his office can provide, how residents can reach out and what his goals are for constituent service.
What constituent services are available?
The most common services are referrals to federal agencies. For example, parents looking for information on how to apply for financial aid on behalf of their students may contact Edwards’ office, and his staff would answer any questions before steering them to the U.S. Department of Education’s student aid resources.
Due to the popularity of WNC as a retirement destination, Edwards says, most casework in the district involves applications for Social Security, veterans benefits, Medicare and obtaining missing payments from federal agencies.
“We get a lot of veterans that are contacting us because they’ve had a tough time accessing veterans benefits. For example, we just finished a 15-county tour that began at the [Charles George Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center] in Asheville,” Edwards says. “There were a number of veterans that knew we were going to be there that met us at that hospital to share some casework concerns that they had, some new and some ongoing.”
Congressional offices also assist with immigration matters, offer internships for students, write U.S. service academy nominations, vet applications for Capitol tours and gallery passes, and listen to any policy concerns.
How can constituents access services?
“All you have to do is call my D.C. office or my Hendersonville district office, and you’ll be connected with very capable, competent people that are equipped to handle almost any issue,” says Edwards.
Edwards’ Washington office can be reached at 202-225-6401, and the Hendersonville district office number is 828-435-7310. Questions or concerns can also be submitted online at Edwards.House.Gov.
Who handles constituent service cases?
Edwards says he’s determined to be the face of his constituent service efforts, but he has been busy building his staff since his victory over Cawthorn in November. On Nov. 14, he issued a press release announcing his appointment of Bronwyn Lance as chief of staff, the first woman to hold that position in District 11. He has also brought on Chris Burns as his Hendersonville-based district director.
Lance will manage the day-to-day operations of Edwards’ office, as well as serve as a liaison between him and his constituents. She brings decades of experience in government and nonprofit organizations to her new role, including time working for former District 11 Republican Charles Taylor.
Burns will be responsible for overseeing the district office, helping constituents with issues and coordinating with local elected officials. He is a Hendersonville native, president of the Summit Marketing Group and co-founder of the Friends of the Ecusta Trail.
What are Edwards’ goals for constituent services?
Since being elected to the N.C. Senate in 2016, Edwards says he has worked to make sure that he is accessible to his constituents. When asked about his goals for the term, Edwards says he hopes “to be available, to listen and to have a team that is passionate about serving the people.”
Edwards says he is committed to providing the best constituent services possible and has already begun working with his staff to create a more efficient system for handling requests. He encourages constituents to reach out with their concerns by phone or email and says he’s willing to have one-on-one meetings whenever possible. He also plans to host virtual town hall meetings to better understand the needs of constituents.
“I’m a common working man from Western North Carolina that has figured out how to live the American dream,” says Edwards. “I very much want to help improve the lives of other folks living in Western North Carolina.”
7 thoughts on “WTF: What can Chuck Edwards do for you?”
The question is not.. What can Chuck Edwards can do for you? It’s very much more akin to.. What can Chuck Edwards do for the election denying right-wing of the MAGA GOP that’s now firmly ensconced there on the floor of Congress? And the answer is… whatever they tell him to do. Period. End of subject. ..but do stay tuned, lol …after all, they’re just getting started up there with their brain trust of a Speaker McCarthy at the helm ..and Chuck studiously flipping burgers and providing stellar constituent services in the background …WTF? …no pun intended… sigh.
Bingo. But he’s quite happy to help constituents grab their benefits, otherwise known to MAGA as socialist evil. He and his ilk are blatant hypocrites.
It may seem like a minor detail but I believe it is important to keep track of the details. Edwards victory in November was over Jasmine Beach Ferrara. His Victory over Cawthorn was in the spring primary.
As long as Chuck doesn’t support inbred domestic terrorists overthrowing Democracy (as he did in the past), that might be a good start.
He never would answer the question as to whether or not he thought Biden was legitimately elected. He would just reply that he had been certified by the House.
It is odd that no Republican has ever been accused of ‘stealing’ an election, when we know that George Bush did exactly that when Florida stepped in and made it happen. It is sad to see that he doesnt have the courage to serve all his consituents, especially if they are gay. Having already caved into the MAGA crowd on his appointments, how does a gay person get represented in District 11? Chuck is helping people get their help from the Feds, the one place that the Republicans want to get rid of. The Republicans want to sunset both Social Security (which is insurance that people have contributed to for years) and deserve when they retire, and Medicare, which funnily enough you need when you get older, and because your healthcare is tied to your job (thanks R group) you cannot get it without Medicare. And it is not free, although Rick Scott has worked out how to bilk it, and still have polical sway. Bush brings in Advantage, which is just private care and locks you into a programs which are more difficult to pay for as you age. And if you dont select your GAP coverage from the approximately 750 offerings, you are seriously out of pocket.
Open letter to Rep. Chuck Edwards:
Dear Congressman Edwards,
One of your campaign mantras was “Our Mountain Values Will Change Washington.”
Sir, to me, as an Appalachian septuagenarian, and as you might know of our values, we’re big on our family, faith, health, neighbors, education, opportunities, safe communities, and good weather for growing stuff we need, and our country. We value those and their priorities for most of us.
I don’t seem to recall where you commented about those values we prioritize.
My 12 aunties from Dix Creek in Bethel sure never liked being singled out for praise, even having their pictures made. They taught us humility.
Some people talk about them, my aunties, live by them.
They stand out for their fairness, decency, wit and story-telling abilities, steadiness and perseverance that resembles the sturdiness of our old mountains.
Patience, respect and kindness, no matter whether they wore a suit and tie or coveralls, went to Pisgah or Tuscola, went to college or stopped at high school.
Foremost, a sense of decency and empathy that is forged in generations of enduring in a place that can be hard on men and women, you understand the hard work, sweat and blood it took to make a go of it in these mountains, it gives you a sense that everybody out there is enduring a struggle, and you come to understand patience and decency.
We strive to be better people, the best we can with what we’ve got, to lend a hand when we don’t necessarily feel like it, to consider another viewpoint and, above all, to be fair.
Of course, it helps if you can spin a yarn with the best of them, and love to share laughs with each other and about each other.
Again, I don’t recall you commenting on those values, nor specifically about how “ Mountain Values Will Change Washington,” except you did say “hard work.”
Sir, how are you going to do that, please?