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Government & Politics

Northeast Ohio Rallies Ask Lawmakers To Conduct Public Town Halls

photo of Belle Everett, Drew Silverthorn
KABIR BHATIA
/
WKSU
Former Tuscarawas County Comissioner Belle Everett (left) says young people like Drew Silverthorn need to get more involved in the political process; they attended a rally in downtown Canton in front of Congressman Bob Gibbs' office on Saturday.

The past weekend saw several protests over the lack of town halls by Northeast Ohio Congressmen, including one in Canton at the office of Bob Gibbs.

About three-dozen people gathered Saturday in downtown Canton outside of Gibbs’ office, calling for him to meet with constituents in a public town hall. Karen Izzy Gallagher helped organize the rally, and says Gibbs’ request to meet with people in small groups in his office is not good enough.

“I met with Rep. Gibbs in a private meeting. We got to speak about the ACA, but I don’t feel as though he heard our questions and heard where we were coming from. His answers, I felt, were very scripted, very canned answers. And the only way we’re going to get our message out is if we do events like this.”

Other lawmakers have cited security concerns about public meetings. Gallagher said she had no problem with the amount of security present during her private meeting.

“We all went through security: we went through metal detectors, and some people were wanded. I was absolutely okay with that. We went up to the third floor; there was a Deputy Sheriff onsite. I was absolutely fine with that. I believe that no public official should ever, ever be afraid to meet with their constituents. Or should ever be threatened: I think they should all be protected.”

Gallagher says she will be holding a meeting next Monday, March 6, to organize residents in the district who want to continue the effort to hold a town hall with Congressman Gibbs. He did not return calls for comment.

In Painesville, northeast of Cleveland, people gathered in a similar rally in front of the offices of Congressman Dave Joyce on Saturday. He had posted on Facebook that he would hold a telephone town hall tonight. You can sign-up for the event here.