Piggybacking on our previous Town Hall blog post.... A good friend of AFAR forwarded us this email message directly from the office of Senator Thom Tillis on 2/7/17.
Thank you so much for your genuine interest in sitting down with me to discuss issues of concern. You specifically mentioned town halls, and I take from your note that you would like to attend a session where I address the crowd and then take questions from the audience.
While that is one way to engage with constituents, I have found it is generally not all that effective for several reasons.
- First, town hall settings require a great deal of coordination on time and venue, both of which present constraints. For example, many facilities will not allow for more than several dozen individuals to be present without some attendees having difficulty hearing or seeing the elected official speak and answer questions.
- Second, in person town hall meetings generally require a commitment several weeks in advance – a commitment my office is not prepared to make given the full schedule of the Senate and the duties attendant to service there.
- Finally, as of late, it has become apparent that some individuals who are not really interested in meaningful dialogue attend town halls just to create disruptions and media spectacles. This is particularly unfortunate because it leads to a scenario in which only the loudest voices in the room can be heard and very little meaningful discussion can actually occur. While I am certain you have no interest in being a part of such a session, clearly some folks have intentions that are not as pure as yours. Under those circumstances, we have determined that talking with constituents via phone, one on one, in tele-town halls, during Facebook live sessions and through the hundreds of thousands of letters we receive and respond to here in our office is an easier way to collaborate on ways we can best serve North Carolina.
Thanks again for your interest in meaningful dialogue, and I hope you will feel free to reach out again if we can ever be of assistance.
Clearly, we believe this approach toward constituent engagement is unacceptable. The Senator spend much of his time in DC and away from his home state. Therefore, it is important he make himself available for face time with North Carolinians. We will follow up about options such as the "tele-town halls" and Facebook live sessions. But given the importance of confirmation hearings and the First 100 Days, our immediate response we will be to join the regular Tuesday vigil in front of his office: 310 New Bern Avenue, 27601 at 11:30am.
We must resist! We must persist!