Colorado’s Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper meet with Postmaster General in push to find solutions to mountain postal issues
The meeting comes just weeks after the senators invited Louis DeJoy to Colorado
For many months now, Colorado electeds have been raising postal challenges with regional and federal United States Postal Service leadership. And just this week — after a slew of letters and local meetings over the past year — Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper sat down with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to discuss the issues face to face.
“For over two years, Colorado communities have told us about the painful delays in mail delivery and gaps in USPS services they face, and today, we raised those issues directly to Postmaster DeJoy,” Bennet said in a prepared statement.
According to an aide for Hickenlooper, the senators’ goals were to “identify policies that better recruit new mail carriers, secure affordable housing, and expand outdated, too-small postal facilities.”
A Bennet aide added that the senators “reiterated the need to address staffing shortages, housing affordability for USPS employees, and infrastructure improvements, in order to hold DeJoy and USPS to their commitment to Coloradans.”
DeJoy, in a provided statement about the meeting, said that “the solutions in mail delivery service inevitably involve human resources, and our workforce — no matter how hard working and spread thin — in these mountain communities where it is expensive to live and difficult to hire; a challenge that will also need creative solutions from local leaders.”
Support Local Journalism
However, during the meeting on Tuesday, March 7, “DeJoy did not offer specifics on his commitment to improve service and delivery issues facing Coloradans but indicated that he and USPS were working on improving them,” according to the Bennet aide.
The Hickenlooper aide added that the senators only heard about “problems not solutions.”
“His explanations were unsatisfactory and we plan to follow up with USPS to make sure the situation is resolved for Coloradans,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement.
Frustration between the Postal Service and the communities it serves has been on the rise. In Crested Butte, the town recently formed a coalition of mountain communities (including the town of Avon) to consider taking legal action amid the postal service’s failure to provide adequate service.
And in February, Rep. Joe Neguse, who serves most of Eagle County in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, expressed his “deep concerns” over the mismanagement of post offices on the Western Slope. Neguse called the district leadership’s inaction and “lack of initiative” to address challenges “immensely frustrating,” stating that the district leadership has apparently “declined nearly every opportunity to work with these communities to identify and implement solutions.”
Consistently, Postal Service representation has pointed to staffing and housing as its primary challenge in addressing the service issues in the mountain communities. This was reiterated in the statement DeJoy provided following the meeting with Bennet and Hickenlooper.
“The Postmaster General explained these challenges are directly connected to the nature of rural and contract routes, and the hiring challenges connected to the local cost of living and housing,” read the statement. “Furthermore that these pressures have occurred simultaneously with an increase in the number of local delivery points and package deliveries. In response to these challenges, during the Capitol Hill office meeting, the Postmaster General indicated that response teams have been deployed to guide local efforts, that people resources from local communities and a neighboring state have been sent, and he offered a periodic check in to report on progress.”
As the challenges persist, Bennet’s aide said that “he will continue to raise these issues to DeJoy because it is clear that the Colorado Wyoming District needs resources to address them.”
The meeting follows the most recent outreach effort by the senators, which was an invitation via letter to DeJoy to visit Colorado and see the challenges firsthand. According to the senators’ aides, this invitation was reiterated at the meeting and remains open, but no visit has been scheduled.
“The Postal Service can and will solve problems within our own power, but local economic conditions are not among them. The senators appeared to understand the issues — both of local circumstances and postal in nature — and hopefully also appreciated the multifaceted steps we are taking to deploy resources to improve service,” said DeJoy in the statement.