In “Tillis is open to town halls, minus shouting,” 3/6/17, N&O, Senator Thom Tillis said “he would host town hall meetings with constituents, but only if they were done without shouting or name calling.” Some friends and I have attended 4 town halls between us in the past few weeks. All four town halls have all been orderly events filled with people who really want to talk about their concerns, or share their stories. We’ve heard no shouting in any of them, although three of the four were ones with absent elected officials – Congressman Holding and Senators Burr and Tillis were refusing to hold them. Congressman David Price held the fourth (actually Price is holding a round of town halls), and by many accounts, his constituents left feeling heard. But even if people do actually shout at a town hall meeting, it is part of Tillis’ job to face the consequences of his actions!
The coverage of the town hall meetings has been interesting. When CBS affiliate WNCN covered a town hall meeting in Apex absent Congressman George Holding, they covered it with the title “North Carolina congressmen avoid facing angry town hall crowds in person,” and showed people in larger town halls elsewhere sounding off. However, the Apex Town Hall meeting on Feb 23, 2017, was more than civil. The organizers allowed everyone to speak who wanted to speak. We heard from over 70 concerned constituents on a wide range of issues. Most people were from Apex. There were great energy and ideas flowing in the room! The coverage of people at the Apex town hall was accurate, but the framing of the story (starting with the title) may have been misleading
The Town Hall for Burr/Tillis in Cary on 2/22/17 had 250 attend, and actually turned away at least 50 more people who waited in line. More on that one, including links to articles at “We Will Be Heard! Burr/Tillis Town Hall on 3/5/17.” Senators Burr and Tillis were represented by nice cardboard pictures of themselves.
On the other hand, Congressman Price held his own town hall in Cary which was attended by over 400 people. The event packed the Cary Arts auditorium. According to another Women’s March On Raleigh organizer, Julie Steele,
“All parties and no party affiliation present. Polite, personal stories shared, concern about the state of the country and the Democratic party. Attendees were teens, millennials, veterans, seniors, mothers, fathers, singles.”
Gailya Paliga took notes for a Burr/Tillis Town Hall at a church in Raleigh on 3/5/17, 2pm-4pm. Theme was “We Will Be Heard.” This event included advocates who got to speak about their issues – including immigration, public education, women’s issues, islamophobia, antisemitism, gun control, ACA, and access to healthcare in general. Again no shouting. About 120 people attended this one – different races and religions. Everyone was well-behaved. People came from all over the Triangle and beyond. A few people explained how they’d never spoken out at events like this before. Some people brought their children.
People had many similar concerns in these town halls, and a few unique ones.
Event organizers provided postcards for constituents to fill in. Organizers are mailing the postcards to Senators Burr and Tillis so the Senators might learn of serious concerns their constituents have and make sure their constituents concerns and needs are represented.
That is the real reason for town halls – so our representatives can learn of our concerns and try to represent them in DC. Tillis, Burr and Holding are in office to represent their constituents, not avoid us.