Speier holds meet and greet event in San Carlos

January 29, 2011 6:24:57 PM PST
The police presence was obvious during a meet and greet event Saturday hosted by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo). It comes exactly three weeks after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with her constituents at a Tucson grocery store.

Speier met with her constituents in downtown San Carlos, a sheriff's deputy and undercover police officers were present. The congresswoman didn't feel she needed protection, but in the end, she's happy law enforcement made the decision to come anyway, so her supporters could feel safe.

"At first, I was unwilling to have a police presence, but then I realized it's not about me - it's about my constituents," said Speier.

This meet and greet event is similar to the one Gabrielle Giffords held exactly three weeks ago at a Safeway store in Tucson. While meeting her constituents, police said 22-year-old Jared Loughner opened fire, wounding 13 people including the congresswoman and killing six others.

The shooting brought back vivid memories for Speier. In 1978, while working as a staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan, Speier was shot five times during a human rights mission to Jonestown.

"I guess the memories it really brought back in a vivid way were the memories of recovery, because my recover was long, it was over two months, I had 10 surgeries. I'm feeling like I'm living it with her. I want to be there for her," said Speier.

Congresswoman Speier introduced a resolution this week to make the first Saturday in January "National Congress on your Corner Day" - in direct response to the shootings in Tucson.

"I was really excited. I wanted to meet her," said Kaila Radford of San Carlos.

"I said to her, I'm very sorry for what happened to your colleague, and I said I hope you have protection here today and she said yes," said Olga Erlichman of San Carlos.

"I just happened to be running by and I saw the congresswoman was out, so I thought I would turn around and take a break and talk to her," said Kent Perry of San Carlos.