Bill Flores, Host a real Town Hall, Please

The office of Representative Bill Flores has announced that the long-awaited Town Hall meetings with the congressman scheduled for April will be conducted via teleconference. We are a diverse group of Mr. Flores’ constituents who believe this is unacceptable.

In person town hall meetings, where representatives receive real face time with large groups of voters, are a bedrock of our democracy and an important visual reminder of the representative process itself. There is something about standing physically in the presence of those you represent, speaking unscripted and on the record about the work of governance, that simply cannot be replicated in a remote setting.

The town hall meeting format received a renewed interest at the end of last decade, as Tea Party groups arose to challenge their Republican representatives to stand up to the agenda of President Obama. They have continued in recent months, this time through Indivisible groups around the country expressing opposition to President Trump’s agenda. Both groups could not be more diametrically opposed to each other in their policy aims, disagreeing on everything from taxation to the very Constitution that our nation was founded on.

But they have this in common: Both believe our representatives in Washington have become too calculating. They manage their image and ration their words in ways that serve only to get them reelected, all while legislating under the watchful eyes of their Big Money donors. They avoid having to answer any uncomfortable questions in front of cameras in favor of the sterile branding of marketing advisors. Mr. Flores has gone on record saying that the purpose of conducting this week’s series of town halls via teleconference is to open up participation to the maximum amount of constituents possible. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in political showmanship to find this explanation suspect, at best.

In light of lively, in-person town hall meetings around the country occurring since last fall’s election, the real purpose of this is crystal clear: To manage the moment in a way that is most favorable to the congressman, that mitigates the anger and frustration that many in the district are feeling right now.

Citizens from across the political spectrum are fed up with this.

On the surface, it may appear that we simply want an opportunity to jeer and deride our congressman, behavior that has unfortunately been a hallmark of many recent town hall meetings across the nation. While this may be the goal of a few on the fringes, it is not the primary reason for our frustration. Instead, we believe it is in the real and often uncomfortable exchanges, in front of cameras and citizens from all sides, that both our representatives and our neighbors see how complex and messy governing actually is, and how every act of legislating affects people with flesh and blood.

Congressman Flores is to be commended for his private meetings over the past few months with constituents from across the political spectrum. But private meetings and artificially “public” town halls aren’t enough. Neither allow for real, on-record conversation, complete with questions, pushback, and the give-and-take necessary for a healthy democratic process. We lament that he has done this, and request that before the end of the week he announce scheduled, in person, on the record town hall meetings for the August recess.


Citizens of the 17th Congressional District


Gayle Acton 78660
Mary Valentine Allen 76710
Helene Andrews-Polymenis 77845
Dave Bauber 76712
Adriene Beer 77845
Nich Beer 77845
Laurie Bell 76712
Cheryl Bohde 76710
Rebecca Brase Forbes 78728
Chris Britton 78729
Kathleen Brotherton 78727
Paula Brown 76557
Anne Bunce 78727
Christine Bunce 78660
Jerrie Callan 76710
David Carmody 78753
Caitlin Clossen 76704
Elesha Coffman 76710
Lizzie Davis 76706
Lynne Davis 76643
Brittany Davis 78759
Elizabeth Dempsey 77803
Donna Dill 76710
Paxton Dove 76708
Marylaine Driese 76701
Holly Duke 76710
Kay Yaeger Dunlap 76710
Mary Duty 76710
Mickie Dye 76708
Kaley Eggers 76707
Meisa Ezekiel 78759
Sarah Fagan 78759
Julie Falettie 78728
Cheryl Foster 76708
Ruth Garcia 78728
TJ Geiger 76706
Jackie Girouard 77840
Julie Graf 78727
Jamie Graham 76708
Bob Graham 76708
L. Guerrero 78727
Sitina Gutierrez 76643
Kim Haines 76712
Jessica Hampton 77845
Susan Haney 76692
Sylvia Harrington 76710
Adrienne Harris 76707
Margaret Harrist 78759
Tammie Hartgroves 76657
Claire Helton 76707
Marissa Hemenway 76712
Melissa Holmes 78728
Carolyn Holzman 78727
Sherri Honza 76710
Lola Hopper 76706
Samantha Hurst 78660
Cynthia J. Jackson 76643
Linsey Jobe 76655
Kathryn Johnson 78660
Holly Joyner 76643
Anita Karney 76712
Lucas Land 76707
Bonnie Lesley 76712
Linda Lewis 76704
Jerri Love 76710
Buddy Luedeker 76708
Mary Mann 76664
Vicki Matta 76708
Jennifer McNichols 77807
Hannah Meehan 78759
Gaby Miller 76701
Matt Miller 78728
Julie Miller 78660
Ethan Mitra 77845
Christopher W. Moore 76701
Gina Mosavi 77845
Nathan Myrick 76710
Craig Nash 76707
Rob Patton 78660
Dan Peppe 76712
Tiffani Piehl 76712
Vanessa Ramirez 76707
Rachel Ramirez 77840
Bryan Register 78728
Jacob K Robinson 76707
Kim Ryser 77879
Margeret Sanders 76710
Zachary Sanger 76710
Mary Ciani Saslow 77840
Cara Shannon 78759
Paula Smith 76710
Joyce Smith 78727
Rachel Springfield 78664
Julie Stagg 78727
Kimberly Stuebben 76706
Lara Tietz 78727
Adam Tilson 76710
Aoife Ulker 78727
Karen Steele Valentine 76705
Carol Wagner 78728
Janet Wallace 76710
Nathan Walther 78759
Ann Whitaker 76712
Kim Whitney 76708
Rhonda Worley-Parsley 76710
Rae Wright 76712
Kay Zercher 78729

Why does Congressman Flores Want Scared, Ignorant Constituents? — by Tylor Standley

Congressman Bill Flores has expressed enthusiastic support for President Trump’s ban on refugees from seven majority Muslim countries. He stated in a Fox News interview that America needs time to “take a breath” from settling refugees. As a pro-life Christian, this statement bothers me. No, it angers me.

America has had exactly zero successful terrorist attacks from a refugee since before the Refugee Act of 1980. In other words, the vetting process works magnificently. Meanwhile, children, women and men in the banned countries do not have 120 days “take a breath.” Their lungs are too full of soot and ash from the bombs dropped on them by half-a-dozen countries, including the US. Harriet Agerholm reported for The Independent that “the US dropped 79 per cent of all 30,743 coalition bombs in 2016.” They do not have room to breathe because they are packed like sardines into tiny boats, looking for somewhere—anywhere—with a sky free of bombers.

In light of this evidence, a group of concerned citizens (including myself) sent a barrage of requests to Congressman Flores to provide a description of the pre-executive order vetting process and a description of its inadequacies. We asked for definitive proof that the process has failed. After several days of sustained pressure, he finally responded by telling us that he will never answer his constituents’ questions about this matter. He calls it an issue of national security, but the facts prove him wrong. For almost forty years, the Refugee Act has kept Americans safe. In fact, Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute demonstrates that in those forty years, Americans had an astronomical 1 in 3.64 billion chance per year of being killed by a refugee terrorist.

We did not ask the congressman for details of the vetting process due to our own ignorance. The details of the vetting process are available to the public, which makes his appeal for secrecy all the more absurd. Rather, we asked because we want Congressman Flores to demonstrate his own familiarity with it. Instead of reassuring his constituents that he understands the grueling 18-24 months of vetting, he simply requested that we quietly accept his word for it. He wants us to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the refugee resettlement program poses no imminent threat to our safety. He wants us afraid. He wants us uninformed.

Why? Could it be that the congressman is just a career bureaucrat, playing on our basest fears for political leverage? Could it be that he is not pro-life, as he claims? Could it be that the congressman is more concerned with his reputation with the Trump administration than with human life? He will not (because he cannot) prove that his support for the refugee ban will do anything more than send thousands, maybe even millions, to be raped and murdered by ISIS or bombed by the US and its allies. I, for one, refuse to be ignorant and passive. Until he proves that we are unsafe, I will be unafraid and I will stand up for the innocent.

I want my congressman to base his decisions on facts and to keep his constituents informed. Most of all, I want my congressman to value human life over political power. The citizens of district 17 deserve that kind of congressperson.

Tylor Standley

Waco, TX


An Open Letter to Congressman Bill Flores From Citizens of the 17th Congressional District

Congressman Flores,

We are a non-partisan group of citizens, all residents of the 17th Congressional District. We represent no particular political party, business, church, or organization. Our only point of connection is that the campaign rhetoric and recent appointments of President-elect Donald Trump have left us concerned for the safety and protection of the dignity of many of our neighbors.

Every election ends with a segment of the population feeling defeated and demoralized. After a season of battling over ideas, one side wins while the other side experiences anxiety about what the results may mean for their future. Both the exuberance of the “winners” and the anxiety of the “losers” usually subside as the process of governing dulls the more extreme and aggressive political speech of campaigning.

This is not that.

The rhetoric and policy proposals of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign went beyond typical election year talk. On top of this, many of the more fringe elements in our country that supported Mr. Trump engaged in inflammatory activities and speech that went unaddressed by the candidate, as well as by his supporters. Our concerns about this should not be dismissed as the rumblings of a few “sore losers,” as more than half of the voters in the country have been accused of being for the past few weeks.

Thank you for agreeing to meet with us on Thursday, December 15th at 1:30 pm. At this meeting we would like to discuss the following issues:

  • Immigration Concerns                                                                                                           Since the election we have heard numerous stories from educators in our community about the fear and anguish of some of their students at the possibility that their parents may be arrested and/or deported. Those dubbed “DREAMers” are unsure of their standing in the country they love. These fears and uncertainties are not unsubstantiated, but emanate from concrete examples of the president-elect making statements that would suggest that this is their future. Although Mr. Trump has softened his tone on this since the election, it was his first point of emphasis in the election, and will be pressed by many of his supporters to return to a more hardline stance in the coming months. We understand that as a Republican, your first priority in this area is to border security. With these as a given, we believe you owe those in your district a statement about what you believe should happen to immigrants currently in the country.
  • Concerns of Women                                                                                                                   The Access Hollywood recording released in October, which revealed incredibly disturbing words from Mr. Trump, served as confirmation of what many already believed to be misogynistic tendencies of the candidate. Combined with previous interviews and sexual assault allegations, the video was the most alarming red flag for many that Trump represents the dangerous tendency in our culture of powerful men getting away with violence toward women. While many of his supporters labeled Trump’s language and history as “vile” and “disgusting,” and the product of a “filthy mouth,” claiming that it didn’t supersede some of the transgressions of his opponent, many women in our country were traumatized by what they heard as much more than “boys being boys” and “locker room talk.” What many of them heard was a step-by-step description of violence that had been done to them in the past. (Notable among those who recognized this as more than inappropriate language were prominent, conservative, evangelical women.) We believe you owe it to those in your district, particularly women, to share whether you believe the president-elect’s past behavior represents simply a “filthy mouth” or something much more dangerous.
  • Racial and Religious Minority Concerns                                                                            2016 has revealed that there continue to be deep racial divisions in our country. These have most clearly manifested themselves in what many believe are institutional biases against minorities woven into the criminal justice system. Groups that have protested against this have been labeled “extreme” and “violent,” regardless of how peaceful their gatherings have been. Additionally, many religious minorities in the country fear for their safety as they continue to be unfairly associated with extreme, violent people who claim to practice the same faith. Donald Trump has intensified these divisions. He was slow to denounce white nationalist voices of support for him, and has appointed advisors who, at the very least, have allowed racist voices to have a place at the table of our public discourse. His rallies often included violence against black protestors. He has suggested that “stop and frisk,” a method of policing that unfairly targets minorities, is acceptable. At one point he expressed potential support for a database of all Muslims living in our country. We believe you owe those in your district a specific explanation of where you stand on each of these issues.

Though many of us are concerned with a number of other issues with the coming Trump presidency, these we have outlined are those which have been uniquely heightened during this election season, and which represent the broadest agreement among the more than half of all voters who voted against Donald Trump.

As far as we can tell, you were mostly silent on many of these issues during the recent campaign season. One could conclude that the relative safety of your seat in Congress has rendered it unnecessary for you to wade into these sensitive waters. If this is true, then it is also true that the relative safety of your seat in Congress renders you uniquely poised to make courageous statements and propose legislation that will protect the most vulnerable of our neighbors. It is our hope in meeting with you that the latter will inform your upcoming fourth term in Congress more than the former.

We are grateful for your service to our district, and for agreeing to meet with us during such a busy time of the year.

Thank You,

Caroline Adams, College Station

Cindy Albert, Waco


Nathan Alleman, Waco

Berkeley Anderson, Waco

Dave Anfenson, Waco

Linda Autrey, Somerville

Emily Bartz, College Station

Joel Bell-Scott , Waco

BeckyBell-Scott, Waco

Marissa Binkoski, Waco

Monica Burmickey, Waco

Ryan Busby, Waco

Bethany Busby, Waco

Christopher Cantrell, Waco

Shannon Carl, Waco

Ana Chatham, Waco

Jessica Christian, College Station

Sarah Christian, Bryan

Carolina Meza de Clark, Waco

Jerrod Clark, Waco

Caitlin Clossen, Waco

Carolyn Cole, Waco

Patrick Danley, Waco

Lizzie Davis, Waco

John DeVries, Waco

Meredith Dieterich, Aquilla

Chris Doe, Waco

Brad Dressler, College Station

Kay Dunlap, Waco

Joleen Eiklenborg, Robinson

Cheryl Foster, Waco

Hallie Gammon, Bryan

Ginny Garrison-Tate, Bryan

Nancy Gatlin, Waco

Joe Gatlin, Waco

Sylvia Gonzales, Lorena

Jamie Graham, Waco

Jessica Green, Waco

Brett Greenfield, Waco

Bethany Grones, Waco

Misty Guy, Waco

Kim Haines, Waco

Sylvia Harrington, Waco

Gigi Harrison, Waco

Tammie Hartgroves, McGregor

Samantha Haynes, College Station

Melissa Hefferin Berquist, College Station

Claire Helton, Waco

Megan Henderson, Waco

Mallory Herridge, Waco

Matt Hess, Lacy Lakeview

Kimberly Hickman, Waco

Andy Hogue, Waco

Tiffany Hogue, Waco

Jeff Holcomb, Waco

DeShauna Hollie, Waco

Michael Honza, Waco

Sherri Honza, Waco

Emily Hunter, Waco

Sasha Jackson, Waco

Tammy Jackson, College Station

Alaina Jalufka, College Station

Amber Jekot, Waco

Dennis Jesinsky, Hewitt

Susan   Jesinsky, Hewitt

Linsey Jobe, Waco

Al Josephs, Waco

Susan Josephs, Waco

Jane Kittner, Woodway

Susan Kocian, Robinson

Katie Lairmore, Waco

Lucas Land, Waco

Deanna Leach, Waco

Kody Leland Bartley, Waco

Lilly Ettinger Leman, Waco

Bonnie Alexander Lesley, Waco

Gregory Lewis, Somerville

Sefra Lopez, Bryan

Jerri Love, Waco

Mary Mann, Mart

Nichole McNeese, College Station

Beth Milam, Bryan

Sarah Minnis, College Station

Marykate Moore, Woodway

Elyse Mowle, College Station

Hope Mustakim, Waco

Craig Nash, Waco

David Nelson, Bryan

Lai Ling Ngan, Hewitt

Jordan Ochel, Woodway

Catherine Osborne, Waco

Erin Payseur, Waco

Candice Prose, China Spring

Brittany Ramirez, Waco

Edith Ramirez, College Station

Jane Read Gherardi, Bryan

Charles Reed, Waco

Jacob Robinson, Waco

Dianne Ryan, Waco

Kim Ryser, Somerville

Carmen Saenz, Waco

Zach Sanger, Waco

Carolyn Schroeder, College Station

Jon Singletary, Waco

Jessika Smith, Waco

Tara Spence, Robinson

Tylor Standley, Waco

Faith Stringer, Bryan

Rhonda Struminger, College Station

Julie Svetlik, College Station

Stephen Swanson, Waco

Holly Tate, Waco

Adam Tilson, Waco

Eleanor Triplett, Waco

Beth Ullman, Waco

Marie Valentine Allen , Waco

Shannon Van Zandt, College Station

Meg Wallace, Woodway

Harrison Ward, Crawford

Becky Warren, Speegleville

Ann Whitaker, Woodway

Mike Whitenton, Woodway

Rachel Whitenton, Woodway

Julia Wiley, China Spring

Chris Williamson, Waco

Peter Witt, Bryan

Rae Wright, Waco

Jamey Yadon, Waco

Pat Yadon, Bryan

Mary Ziehe Moore, Waco

Andrea Zimmerman, Waco