Group wants Hice to conduct town hall meeting
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:00 am | Updated: 12:01 am, Wed Apr 19, 2017.
Stephen Milligan | The Tribune | 0 comments
MONROE — More than a dozen protestors stood in front of U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s headquarters in downtown Monroe to demand the congressman meet in person with his constituents.
Indivisible Georgia District 10, a volunteer group of local constituents, gathered in front of the office of Hice, R-Greensboro, on Court Street, with signs asking why he was afraid of his constituents and reminding him he works for the voters of District 10.
The group’s primary complaint was Hice’s refusal in recent months to meet with voters face to face in a town hall meeting. During the last recess of Congress, hundreds of House Republicans faced angry voters in town hall meetings, many of them hoping to convince their representatives not to repeal “Obamacare.”
Hice, however, has not held a public forum in that time, sending proxies in his place to several public events and holding telephone conference calls with voters to address issues.
For the protestors Tuesday morning, many of them from Clarke and Oconee counties, this was not good enough.
“We’ve called and asked him to meet with us and he has not responded,” Regina Smith, of Athens, said. “We’re not all left or all right. Most of us are retirees who just want to meet with him.”
Toni Reed, of Athens, agreed.
“We want representation in Congress and we feel we are not getting that,” Reed said.
The protest group issued a press release Tuesday presenting the protest as just one of several planned this week, culminating with an “Empty Chair Town Hall” Saturday in Athens, in which citizens can present their complaints and issues to an empty chair representing the absent Hice.
“A ‘representative’ who goes AWOL when he should be listening to voters and answering their questions in a public forum really cannot function as a representative of his constituents at all,” Jackie Ellsner, an activist with Indivisible Georgia District 10, said. “We are staging this protest to remind Jody Hice that he works for us, and his refusal to engage with us is unacceptable.”
Hice’s office, however, objected to the activist group’s portrayal of Hice’s availability and issued a statement to correct the record.
“To suggest that the congressman refuses to meet with his constituents because he is not available to participate in the Indivisible forum is incredibly disingenuous,” the statement read. “Just last week, the congressman met with dozens of constituents and community leaders from across the district. Furthermore, he has offered one-on-one meetings on many occasions, which the Indivisible group certainly would have taken advantage of if their desire to engage in a dialogue was as genuine as they represent.
“While he respects their right to hold whatever forums they choose, he prefers forums that allow for a more meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas. In order to facilitate a more productive dialogue, he has instead been available and accessible to his constituents through direct meetings, ‘Coffee with your Congressman’ open houses, tele-town halls, as well as any number of site visits and roundtables, of which a large number of his constituents have taken advantage. As always, he will make time on his schedule to meet directly with the Indivisible members should they wish to have a productive and respectful dialogue and not simply a media moment.”