Congressman had been to Cuba 10 days earlier
By Brian Mathu
A few weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble was part of a historic visit to Cuba with President Obama and a bipartisan group of Congress members.
On March 31, 10 days later, Ribble journeyed to a point closer to home – New London High School – where he spoke with and listened to more than 150 students.
Ribble started his presentation by asking all students to write two words on a note card. On the front, students wrote the one word that describes the best thing about America; on the back, students wrote one word that sums up the worst thing about America.
He then asked students to raise their hands if the wrote “liberty” or “freedom” on the front, and 80 percent to 90 percent raised their hands. Ribble then asked which students put “government” or “debt” on the back, and again a vast majority lifted their hands high.
Having visited many northeastern Wisconsin high schools in his five-plus years in Congress, Ribble commented that New London’s ninth graders answered as most students have.
Ribble covered a wide range of topics, including reasons he first ran for Congress in 2010 as well as reasons he recently decided he would not seek reelection to Congress this November. Ribble said he never wanted to be a career politician, believing our Founding Fathers envisioned regular citizens serving in “the People’s House” for a limited time and then returning to their families and lives back home.
Ribble also related his recent visit to Cuba and described the normal daily activities of a member of Congress, ranging from formal committee hearings to informal conversations with constituents.
Students asked a variety of questions, ranging from term limits, marriage equality, recent budgetary bills he has sponsored, as well as his views on the remaining Presidential candidates and the upcoming Republican nominating convention.
“I liked how he asked the audience for questions and was honest about the way he felt,” student Olivia Tews said. “Seeing a congressman in real life is something that I will never forget.”
Student Zachary Stiebs added, “He was very passionate about his work. He spoke clearly and knowingly and was very enjoyable to listen to.”
“It is amazing that he is one of 535 Congressmen in the world,” ninth-grader Travis Kuhnke said. “I just hope that the next person to take that job will try to impact the state the same way.”
Ribble is the third consecutive local U.S. representative to visit New London High School, joining fellow Republican Mark Green and Democrat Steve Kagen.
Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District covers almost 10,000 square miles, and Ribble represents over 700,000 people.