by Sojourner Staff
WASHINGTON D.C. – Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York’s 22nd Congressional District has decided to attend town hall events in the district, reversing a decision, echoed by most Republican lawmakers, to avoid such engagements.
According to Town Hall Project, only 19 Republican representatives and senators had planned to meet with constituencies in town hall events as of February 17th.
Rep. Tenney, in an interview with Binghamton’s NewsChannel 34, initially explained her decision by citing the effectiveness of telemeetings to avoid being shouted down at events. The Congresswoman has also claimed that protesters in her district are being “paid” to disrupt events.
“We’re trying to reach the most people we can in the safest and the best way to communicate so that we actually have dialogue and not a shouting match,” she said in the interview. “I want to listen, I want to hear those views, and I want to hear the views from all sides, not just one side shouting over the people who really need our help.”
While no evidence has surfaced of protesters being paid, there is evidence that constituents are not happy with the executive orders, passed in rapid succession, and are seeking opportunities to redress their grievances.
In the state’s 23rd Congressional District, Rep. Tom Reed (R) addressed voters over the weekend over concerns of recent actions on the Affordable Care Act. At an event in Asheville in Chautauqua County, the crowd was so large that they had to be moved outside. When Reed started explaining alternatives to the ACA, the crowd began chanting over him, “We want your healthcare! We want your healthcare!”
Missing in Action
Tenney’s absence from the area since the election has been noted. At an event in Downtown Utica in January, where constituents were told that they could meet elected officials from local, state and federal offices, the Congresswoman was the only billed name to not show.
At a town hall event at the DeSales Center in Utica on February 20th, organized by Central New York Citizens in Action, an invitation was sent to Rep. Tenney although she did not attend.
Given these instances, the change in Rep. Tenney’s stance on town halls is sure to be welcomed by supporters and protesters alike.