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Congressman Charlie Dent and a member of British Parliament knocked on doors at homes in Kutztown – walking the neighborhood and speaking to local residents on Friday.
While many politicians do this while campaigning, Dent also makes it a part of his official duties.
The goal was to give the British member of Parliament an idea of what small community Americans feel about politics and government, according to Collin Long, communications director for Dent’s office.
“In Wales, Guto Bebb represents a smaller, rural community not that different from Kutztown,” said Long.
This week Dent, 15th District, hosted Guto Bebb, Member of British Parliament, Aelod Senedol Aberconwy, through the British American Parliamentary Group Exchange Program.
“The United States and the United Kingdom are key allies with great affection on both sides of the pond with one another,” said Congressman Dent. “The United Kingdom is a key partner in so many areas of foreign policy.”
“I’ve learned a lot more about your system as a whole and I hope to learn a lot more about your system on the ground level going to door-to-door with the Congressman and see how it compares going door-to-door campaigning in the United Kingdom,” said Bebb.
Bebb said one of the stereotypes about America were people were unfriendly.
“In London you don’t talk to strangers; in Washington, D.C. people walk right up and talk to you.”
Bebb, from Wales, commented that he wanted people to understand from his visit that “these visits are very important in understanding to see how each system works and to understand there are a lot more similarities than differences.”
Bebb is a member of the conservative party. He was elected in 2010 as MP for Aberconwy in Wales. After graduating from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, he ran an economic development consultancy and also worked as the business development director of Innovas Wales.
Dent was first sworn in to the United States House of Representatives in January 2005. He represents Pennsylvania’s 15th District, which includes all or parts of Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, and Berks counties. He is currently serving his fourth term in Congress.
During his visit, Bebb had many things planned as far as touring the local area is concerned. On the morning of July 27 Bebb visited Air Products. They discussed jobs, economy, and the view across the pond. Later he traveled to Bethlehem. Then he went to a roundtable discussion at the offices of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. Then after a quick change of clothes for door-to-door visits, Bebb and Dent met up at the Kutztown Tavern for a bite to eat before setting out to talk to Kutztown residents. Bebb even planned to see his first baseball game, the Iron Pigs in Allentown, later that night.
Commenting on the similarities to his hometown and Kutztown, Bebb said, “As far as the district as a whole, there is a lot of agriculture. And in my hometown, the population doubles when the students come back.”
He further commented, “We haven’t gotten as much out of town development. We haven’t as much sprawl.”
Bebb’s hometown is Bangor, Wales.
Dent commented, “This has been exciting for all us. I didn’t realize he was from Bangor. We have been very pleased because of the local connection.”
Because of this local connection, Sunday morning before Bebb’s departure for Boston, Bebb and Dent visited the St, David Welsh Society in Bangor, Pa.
“The objects of the British-American Parliamentary Group are to promote friendly relations and mutual understanding between members of both Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom and members of both Houses of Congress of the United States of America; to discuss problems common to the United Kingdom and the United States; to exchange courtesies and to provide opportunities for discussion with Senators, members of the House of Representatives, and other distinguished citizens of the United States; and to arrange for the exchange of visits and information between legislators of both countries,” according to www.bapg.org.uk.