I’ve come to the conclusion after the 2009 health care law that any federally elected official should be held to the same standards as our local part-time legislators of both political parties. They should be expected to hold regular town halls throughout the year.
I sympathize with Senator Johnson and his family. I know that it can’t be easy to serve while recovering, and I understand the stress that his illness likely causes him. But my personal opinion is that openness to public discourse should be part of the job when serving as a United States Senator. I understand recovery time and the lack of interest in debating a weak opponent (2008) because it’s part of the strategic game, but at what point will it be time for Senator Johnson to hold a public discussion with regular citizens of this state? Are we supposed to go an entire 6 year Senate term without one opportunity for a public meeting with Senator Johnson?
Is that respectful? Is it disrespectful of us to expect a public town hall from one of our two US Senators because 3 years ago he suffered a terrible tragedy? Is it disrespectful of him to expect a different standard than we hold for everyone else representing us?
Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Brookings, Watertown, Mitchell, Yankton, Pierre, Huron, Vermillion, and Spearfish are the largest eleven cities in South Dakota. Together they make up very diverse communities and economies. How hard is it for our elected officials to hold a town hall in a handful of these communities each year?
Kristi Noem has been in office for less than a year, but I would like to see more enthusiasm for open public forums around the state.
John Thune shouldn’t be South Dakota’s only federally elected official willing to hold town halls and hear what voters engaged in the political process have to say.
As far as I can tell, Thune was the only member of our congressional delegation to hold a public town hall during the August reccess where any question covering any topic could be asked.