The Congressional District Office: A Case Study
Kittredge, John L.
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On November 7, 1978, Mr. Howard Wolpe was elected to the United States Congress from Michigan's Third Congressional District. On January 17, 1979, just ~ day after he was inaugurated, Congressman Wolpe opened up his Kalamazoo and Battle Creek District Offices. These offices, designed to increase citizen participation in government as well as to serve as an advocate of constituents' needs, were opened as a result of a campaign pledge and practical knowledge of their potential benefits to the districts as well as the Congressman. I will be concerned, in this paper, specifically with the Kalamazoo office; its operations, functions, abilities and background. The history of this office, in terms of philosophy and personnel, gives a great deal of insight into the present operations and illuminates Congressman Wolpe's philosophies of governing. Consideration of this sort will give a newcomer to the district knowledge of what it is and is becoming. There are several aspects of the Kalamazoo office which are particular and new to the Third District. Years of one party domination (high quality though it was) could be partly a reason for this. I will go on to show the sort of work this office does by reviewing several cases which I worked on during my internship. The purpose of this firsthand account is to acquaint the reader with the type and variety of constituent complaints, problems, and requests as well as some of the difficulties faced in handling them. Finally, I will present the need I have found for scholarly review and in depth study of the district office and Congressional office staff in general.