Former members of Congress to visit NAU for town hall

Headshots of Tom Petri and Karan English

On Wednesday, April 10, the Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff and surrounding communities will have a rare chance to interact with lawmakers who played major roles in shaping federal policy. 

Two former members of Congress—Karan English, a Democrat who represented Arizona’s 6th congressional district from 1993 to 1995, and Tom Petri, a Republican who represented Wisconsin’s 6th congressional district from 1979 to 2015—will come to NAU’s International Pavilion for a town hall-style Q&A session emceed by Coconino County Deputy Manager Andy Bertelsen.

The town hall will take place from 12:15-1:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Doors will open at noon.

NAU’s Department of Politics & International Affairs is presenting the event in partnership with the non-profit organization Former Members of Congress (FMC), with sponsorship by the Arizona State Legislature in partnership with the Arizona Board of Regents. FMC’s Congress to Campus program provides college students with a unique civic education by engaging them in honest dialogue with bipartisan teams of former members of Congress, congressional staff and American diplomats. The conversations often bring contemporary social issues to the forefront and showcase the benefits of healthy partisanship and civil disagreement.

“This is a great opportunity for students to learn about how to get involved in public service, which is vital to a functioning representative democracy,” said Marija Bekafigo, associate chair of the Department of Politics & International Affairs. “In fact, it is so vital that these former members of Congress are volunteering their time to talk about it.”

Bekafigo said the town hall is just one of many campus events involving the former congressional representatives over their three-day visit. English and Petri will also pay visits to multiple classrooms, where young people studying subjects such as American foreign policy, crime and justice, Middle East politics and public relations will have the opportunity to ask them questions about their political careers and their thoughts on current events. The former lawmakers will also meet with NAU student and faculty leaders over local meals during their visit. 

About Karan English
Former Rep. Karan English got her start as an elected official in 1980, when she became Coconino County supervisor. In 1986, she was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives; four years later, she joined the Arizona Senate, serving for one term. She became Arizona’s second woman elected to Congress, and from 1993 to 1995, she served one term representing the 6th congressional district, which in the 1990s included much of Mesa, Scottsdale and northeast Arizona. Since leaving Congress, she has participated in numerous democracy programs and women’s workshops across 19 countries and helped advance environmental initiatives at NAU. In 2008, she was appointed to the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics and served for 14 years.

About Tom Petri
Former Rep. Tom Petri represented Wisconsin’s 6th congressional district for 18 terms until his retirement in 2015. He was a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Education and Workforce, where he became known for pursuing legislative initiatives in student loan reform, the federal highway program, tax and welfare reform and healthcare reform. Born in Marinette, Wisconsin, Petri attended Harvard University, got his start as a clerk for a U.S. District Court judge and served in Somalia as a member of the Peace Corps. Petri worked in private practice in Wisconsin before serving six years in the Wisconsin Senate and then becoming a congressman.

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Jill Kimball | NAU Communications
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NAU Communications