Central Texans scheduling town halls without RSVPs from congressmen

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DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Central Texans who live in multiple Congressional districts say their requests for town halls with their congressmen are falling on deaf ears.

“Our intention is not to be intimidating, it’s not to be heated,” said Erin Zwiener, who lives in Driftwood. “It’s to ask our very legitimate concerns.”

At recent town halls in other parts of the country Q&As have turned into confrontations with Congressmen, specifically republicans.

Zwiener is with Indivisible TX-25, a group opposed to President Trump’s agenda. They have been asking U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, to hold a town hall in Hays County. “We’ve reached out through his official meeting requests, through his scheduler, through phone calls, through Facebook and we just haven’t had any luck,” said Zwiener.

Despite zero response, the group went ahead and put a town hall on the calendar for this Sunday in Dripping Springs knowing Rep. Williams will be in town.

He is scheduled to speak at a private event Sunday night a mile and a half away, hosted by the North Hays Republican Group. “I hope he decides to come into town a little bit earlier and come spend some time with his constituents,” said Zwiener.

If he doesn’t show up, the group will go ahead and hold a mock town hall and record their comments and concerns.

“We’re going to state our concerns, we’re going to record them, we’re going to send them to him,” said Zwiener. “We’re going to write our concerns down on postcards and then we’re going to go stand outside the other event peacefully, calmly.”

KXAN reached out to Rep. Williams’ office Friday, and his communications director, Vince Zito responded with this statement:

“Congressman Williams believes in listening to his district and in doing so spends as much time as possible meeting with constituents and groups throughout his district. Congressman Williams will always humbly listen to the thoughts and concerns of all of his constituents – he always has and always will. And although he appreciates the invitation, he declines to attend the club meeting of the Dripping Springs Democratic Action and its associated groups. I think if you closely examine the statements and missions of these groups, it’s clear that civil, substantive discourse on issues is not their true agenda. Congressman Williams looks forward to continuing to fight for the issues that his constituents sent him to Washington to fight for, including: real tax reform, strengthening our military and rolling back the job killing Obama trademarks such as Obamacare and Dodd-Frank legislation.”

A similar situation is playing out in Cedar Park and Round Rock. A group went ahead and put a town hall on the calendar for Feb. 22, and asked U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, to be there. He turned down the invitation.

His spokeswoman, Corry Schiermeyer, told KXAN, “Constituent services is a top priority of the Congressman. The Congressman appreciates the invitation, but he is unable to attend.”

The event will go on without him. Some constituents tell KXAN Rep. Carter’s staff told them he does not hold live town hall meetings for safety reasons, and prefers to hold tele-town halls because more people can attend. However, there is little advance notice, and those are scheduled on the day of.

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