Several Madison County residents — including those part of a new, grassroots progressive effort in Plain City — were among those in attendance at a congressional town hall meeting Wednesday in Hilliard.
The meeting was attended by about 400 people, according to Denise Worthington, a spokesperson for the Madison County Democratic Party. She said several leaders with the county’s party were there, as well as members of the newly-formed Plain City Progressives.
But U.S. Rep Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) wasn’t among the attendees, unless you count the cardboard cutout of the congressman placed on the stage.
Stivers represents Ohio’s 15th district, which includes constituents in Madison County, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Circleville, Logan, Athens and Wilmington. Leaders returned to their districts this week for congressional recess.
It’s been dubbed “resistance recess.”
Across the country, town hall meetings are being organized as a result of some constituents saying they feel ignored by their GOP lawmakers. Some lawmakers have been shouted down and booed by angry crowds, while others have refused to attend.
Worthington called Wednesday’s gathering “really respectful.”
“Republicans were there too, but it was mostly Democrats,” she said. “It was a bipartisan evening and Madison County was well represented.”
She said the speakers discussed the Affordable Care Act and the privatization of Medicare, mostly. Immigration was also discussed.
A spokesperson for Stivers’ office said the congressman could not be in attendance due to late notice and a scheduling conflict. An invitation was sent to him with less than a week’s notice, said spokesperson Courtney Whetstone.
“He wants to have a constructive conversation with his constituents, however [Wednesday] night’s event was organized by a Democrat running for Hilliard City Council and had speakers slated including the former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman. That doesn’t sound like the start of a constructive, non-partisan conversation,” she said in a statement.
Whetstone noted Stivers has communicated with constituents through letters and held more than three telephone town halls this year.
Worthington said that’s not enough.
“People are upset about Medicare privatizing and he won’t talk about it,” she said. “Everybody gets the same standard letter when you reach out.”
“It’s hard to ask a question on those teleconferences,” she added, complaining that “the subject matter is pre-determined.”
A similar town hall meeting was held in Columbus in the 12th district, represented by U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi. Tiberi was also not in attendance.
President Donald Trump has dismissed the hostile crowds as paid protests organized by Democrats.
Stivers’ office has two more teletowns scheduled in March. Those interested in participating can call the Hilliard District Office at 614-771-4968 to get added to the call.
Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.