The Mercury: Reps. Dean, Evans highlight importance of postal service during Montgomery County stop

WYNCOTE — The U.S. Postal Service office on Glenside Avenue served as a backdrop Tuesday for two congressional representatives to announce their unwavering support for the post office amid national tensions surrounding funding for the agency.

“We’re here in solidarity with the postal service,” said U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th Dist., which covers most of Montgomery County and parts of Berks County

“We are in this together,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd Dist., which is in Philadelphia.

Visiting the local post office brought back fond memories for Dean.

“My grandmother … worked at the post office in Glenside for years and years and years, and she prized her work,” Dean said. “She knew it was a place of community, and a place of building community, and sharing information across communities.”

It’s something retired postal worker Clay Smith said he knows all too well. The former letter carrier served the Postal Service for roughly four decades in Abington Township and had the same route for 36 years, he said Tuesday while accompanying the two lawmakers.

“I went to weddings, I went to Bat Mitzvahs. I went to christenings. I mean I grew up with the people. I consider myself a very lucky man,” Smith told MediaNews Group.

Dean and Evans addressed members of the media Tuesday morning to advocate for their constituents who have expressed concerns about postal service delays.

“I have seniors who have called us and say, ‘I’m very worried about getting my medicine, getting my Social Security check and getting my mail-in ballot,’” Dean said.

(The Social Security Administration stopped mailing Social Security checks in 2011 during the Obama administration.)

In addition to the Wyncote visit, Dean planned to stop Tuesday at post offices in Collegeville and Glenside.

She added that area residents are “also very loyal to the post office. They recognize the important institution that it is.”

Tuesday’s tours come in the midst of scrutiny on the postal service, which has instituted cutbacks of overtime and sorting machines following billions of dollars in losses. Postal officials also warn the agency may not be able to deliver promptly mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 general election.

“This is the Postal Service. This is not the profit center,” Dean said. “This is about service to America, to Americans, especially to our elderly.”

Area residents are “frustrated by its dismantling, and Congresswoman Dean will do everything she can to amplify their voices,” according to a statement issued by her office.

She will be among members of the U.S. House of Representatives heading back to Washington to vote Saturday on a $25 billion stimulus for the postal service.

If passed, Dean said sending the “robust set of resources to the postal service” would help to “continue their operation at a time of high volume.”

“I do hope that we have bipartisan support for this bill,” Dean said. “I can’t imagine anybody voting against supporting their post office.”

From the perspectives of retired postal workers, this money would mean everything.

“We’re proud letter carriers dedicated to service and what we need is the funding to do what we have done for 245 years — deliver service to the American people,” Smith said.

Joe Rodgers, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Keystone Branch 157, agreed, stressing the gravity of the current situation if the agency does not receive the transfusion of funds.

“We will not survive as an institution. That’s just how important this bill is, the passage of this stimulus,” Rodgers said.

“We’re only 76 days away from this election, and to have people fearful for whether or not they will get their mail-in ballot, whether or not it will be delivered back and counted is I think irresponsible,” Dean said.

Dean ended her visit at the Glenside Avenue post office inserting a letter into the nearby mailbox.

“It’s time that we go back to business as usual, which is [to] support the institutions and support our American citizens,” she said.