Citizens call for town halls with Members of Congress

Feb 17, 2017

From protests to marches and phone calls to written letters, the ascension of Donald Trump to President of the United States has unleashed a tidal wave of citizen engagement in communities across the country.

In this new political climate, voters are demanding that elected officials start engaging more with the general public to discuss issues like the Affordable Care Act, immigration, cabinet member nominees and more. To facilitate this discussion, they’ve been urging their elected representatives to host in-person town halls when they’re home during next week’s Congressional recess.

Working from a successful Tea Party tactic in 2009, the local organizing effort is gaining momentum once again to put pressure on elected officials to hear citizen voices first hand. To build support for these renewed demands, dozens of petitions started on have been signed by tens of thousands of people from across the nation who want to make these meetings happen.

Here’s a look at a few growing petitions:

  • Douglas Hamilton of Colorado wants his junior senator, Cory Gardner, to host a town hall meeting by March. He’s even volunteered to set up the meeting location, distribute tickets and organize questions of the senator.
  • Jaclyn Boyes of Arizona is urging Senator Jeff Flake to organize a town hall: “His constituents have urgent, time-sensitive questions and concerns that they would like to discuss with him in light of recent governmental activity.”
  • Nicole MacLaughlin of Indiana wants her Congresswoman Jackie Walorski to hold an in-person meeting to “hear concerns from her constituents before voting to repeal the ACA [Affordable Care Act]”.
  • A group of North Carolina constituents claiming to come from across the state are calling on their Senators Richard Burr and Tom Tillis to host town halls after they’ve been told that there will be no forums.
  • Aleah Dacey of New Jersey has organized a meeting location and Google form to get constituent voices in front of Congressman Chris Smith, who — according to Aleah — hasn’t held a town hall meeting in 25 years.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s constituents are asking him to forgo meetings with special interests groups and donors in order to hold forums in three to five of Kentucky’s largest cities.
  • Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers Washington state constituents say they want a better avenue to start a dialogue around several divisive issues with their elected representative during a town hall meeting around recess.

The petition tool is one of many ways that people are building community and power around the demands for town halls right now. Individuals like Douglas, Jaclyn and Nicole have the ability on to send email updates about recent developments to signers, communicate with supporters, fundraise for specific activities and more.

To join their efforts, here are the steps that you can take to get involved:

  1. Head to this Town Halls movement page to view the full list of petitions, and add your name to relevant ones.
  2. If you don’t see your representative being petitioned, start your own petition. Go to Call My Congress if you need to find out your representatives’ names.
  3. Use this Organizing Toolkit as a guide to help you on your way. You’ll get advice and tips on petition creation, campaign building, press outreach and more.

The American public wins when we prioritize constructive dialogue between individuals and those elected into power who shape the issues that affect our lives and families. Be sure to monitor your members’ local activities next week and start to think about how you want to organize for April’s recess.