Rep. George Miller visited Rakestraw Books in Danville on Thursday to show his support for Banned Books Week and to hear first-hand from a small business owner.
Congressman Miller also came to spend some time in Danville, which the longtime Democrat hasn't represented in 20 years. After redistricting last year, Miller is now running for re-election in the newly formed 11th Congressional District, which includes Danville.
Miller spent about 30 minutes in the independent book store, browsing the shelves, talking with owner Michael Barnard and posing for photos.
As chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Miller said he will continue to fight to improve education, an issue he believes is important to Danville residents.
"This is one of the strongest school districts and a lot of the students here are college-bound," Miller said. "We have worked hard to create programs to lower the interest on student loans and will to try extend them."
Miller also spoke about supporting small businesses, like Rakestraw Books. He said he's worked with the Small Business Association to set up seminars with business owners in his district, giving advice on working with their bank and exploring the possibility of exporting their product.
Overall, Miller believes the economy is moving in the right direction, but that there are still challenges.
"The problem we face is a lack of customers," Miller said. "People had to pay down their debt after the downturn and that makes people nervous about spending again, be it with General Motors or this bookstore."
Barnard, the owner of Rakestraw Books, said it "was awesome" for Miller to come to his store and show his support for Banned Books Week.
"Some people want to control ideas and say what people should and shouldn't read," Barnard said. "But that's not the type of country I want to live in and it goes against what the Constitution protects."
For Miller, he's a favorite to win re-election and stay in Congress, where he has been since 1975. The New York Times gives the district a "Solid Democratic" rating — its strongest.
In the neighboring district, Miller's longtime colleague Pete Stark is in a much more precarious situation as he faces fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell for a seat in the California's new 15th Congressional District.
Miller reiterated his support for Stark on Thursday.
"(Stark) has been a very good member of Congress," Miller said. "His involvement on health care legislation has been critical and he's good with the issues."
Miller is slated to debate his Republican challenger, Virginia Fuller of Pinole, on Oct. 30 at Scott's Seafood Bar & Grill in Walnut Creek.
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