A Texas Congressman claimed to be the only member of Congress to host a town hall meeting with constituents this week.
Congressman Beto O’Rourke, D-TX, 16th District, said in his Friday forum in El Paso that no other representatives from Texas held town hall events during the so-called “week off” from Washington.
Similar meetings held nationwide by other members of Congress were met with anger, as constituents poured in to talk about important issues with their representatives. Some of those meetings went better than others, as protestors were removed from some events.
Some members of Congress decided to forego the meetings altogether, opting for other speaking events and private meetings.
Congressman Jodey Arrington, R-TX, 19th District, said he did not host a meeting due to scheduling conflicts.
“I’ve had invitations to speak at big public events, and we’ve had roundtable discussions and a host of other events and meetings planned for weeks if not months,” he said, citing previous engagements.
However, he added that town halls were “a useful and beneficial part of the process.”
In the absence of a formal town hall on the South Plains during Arrington’s visit, a group of constituents planned to host one on their own.
Organizer TG Caraway, a member of Our Revolution West Texas, said the event on Saturday was designed for residents to come forward to talk about concerns.
“I think with the election of President (Donald) Trump, there’s just a lot of apprehension from a lot of Americans,” Caraway said. “I think (Arrington) should show up and answer questions from all of his constituents, because, just because we might not have voted for him in November doesn’t mean that he’s not our representative in Washington.”
“Town halls are nothing new in America,” Caraway mentioned. He downplayed accusations that events like the one he’s organizing were disruptive.
“I’ve read a couple other statements (including Arrington’s, that) say it’s political theater. I think American history is full of political theater. One man’s political theater is another person’s American democracy,” Caraway said.
Arrington said he planned to host a town hall event on his next visit to Lubbock.
“It’s important, it’s in my heart to do that,” he said. “Several weeks down the road we can come back and have the time to have the venues to have candid open constructive dialogue, I’m ready to do it.”
He said it would be important to try to have an “open and honest dialogue.”
“It’s a useful and beneficial part of the process,” Arrington explained.
The Lubbock County Democratic Party issued a statement in response to the nationwide town hall meetings, and lack-there-of.
“We are seeing a grassroots movement of citizens all over America, who see what is happening in our nation, don’t like it, and are determined to do something about it,” Chairman Stuart Williams said. “The town hall meeting is a staple of representative government. Regardless of where people stand on the issues, an inviolable tenet of the Constitution is the redress of grievance by the citizenry. Elected officials must remain accountable and stand ready to defend their actions to the people they represent.”
Caraway’s event was scheduled for Saturday, February 25, at 11:00 a.m. located on the Texas Tech campus in the Student Union Building’s Red Raider Lounge.