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.

Signed,

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
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