Constituents deserve town halls

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.

17 Replies to “Constituents deserve town halls”

    1. Anonymous

      Only if it was moderated by an independent source. Otherwise we know they would weed us Tea Partiers out MC.

      Only open forums work in my opinion.

  1. springer

    No to the internet in lieu of face to face contact at town halls. They owe us that much! But then they would actually have to answer questions. I have the form letters I get from them when I write about an issue that don’t really answer anything and are just spin. One of the complaints against Herseth Sandlin was that she would not have any open meetings, but Noem hasn’t had them either (which might be an issue next year if she doesn’t change her ways). Forget Johnson; he will never have any; I just hope he foregoes another term.

    1. insomniac

      Johnson is an absolute joke!!!!!! He should do something. I can’t believe the guy. Rounds will blow him out of the water in ’14.

  2. oldguy

    I voted for TJ. Even round table meetings he holds are for invited guests only and very scripted. It sure looks to me like the only “meetings” TJ has are very controlled. If TJ runs again iand doesn’t campaign which includes debates their is noway I would vote for him again. I voted for SHS and am not a fan of Kristi but did go to two meetings she had open to the public in Pierre during and after the flood. I have to say she did a great job. She even stopped by our house when we were sand bagging as did Thune.

  3. Anonymous

    Have you seen Kristi’s website? She is everywhere if you want to talk to her, not necessarily a town hall all the time, but she is at meeting after meeting after meeting when she is back in the State. Bill… I disagree with your sentiment.

    1. Anonymous

      Not necessarily a town hall ever. Read the below. Looks like they wanted submitted questions to her staff at the round table. Round tables are a joke.

      From Capitol Journal:
      During the discussion, audience members submitted questions to Noem staffers and the congresswoman relayed the questions to the corps. Gon Sanchez, who lives on Frontier Road, said he expected to be able to ask questions himself. However, afterwards, he was able to talk to Anderson about how the corps relayed information to the public and when it could have started increasing releases out of the dam.

      1. anon

        Don’t you think that if Noem is going to hold public floggings of the Corp for political gain than she should also do the same thing discussing how she votes?

        And Tim Johnson is a pure disgrace as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Shelly

    Sen. Johnson has held two open town halls in Sioux Falls hosted by the Chamber within the last year – one for the general public and the other for young professionals. Both sparsely attended.

  5. delegate

    Thune is unique. I have great respect for him he is in a class of his own in SD. Johnson represents what is wrong with DC.

    Noem does travel the state quite a bit and that is one reason I’m so stunned she doesn’t hold town halls. She flies in and out of SF every week. She drives from Watertown – SF every week.

    So maybe one of these days on her way through Brookings she could stop and hold a town hall? I’d like to talk about the payroll tax cut. I don’t want one of those silly Johnson style round table discussions where only the who’s who in a town are invited to attend or the audience can only ask questions her staff approves of. She needs to follow the Thune example instead of the Johnson model.

  6. anon

    I’ve listened in on two of her phone “town hall” meetings. I do prefer a face to face – but honestly, I likely would not have been able to attend. I did note that the questions she fielded were from people who would have had to travel a long distance to attend an Aberdeen, Huron or Pierre “town hall”.

    I would recommend that she inform the public in advance of these calls. Some people may try to rearrange their schedules to listen in. Also, there would be a greater perception of open communication with those back home.

  7. Electrifying South Dakota

    I couldn’t agree more. Communication, or the lack thereof, is the root of many business/personal/and political problems. Both Sen. Johnson and Rep. Noem need to make themselves available for community meetings. Frankly, the internet isn’t going to cut it with our largest voting demographic, and they aren’t the least bit interested in sitting on the telephone for more than ten minutes in order to attend a meeting. The best, and most appropriate forum is through direct public interacton.

  8. Anonymous

    every get a reply from t, j or n? none will answer a question with a YES OR NO only words that go no place, even will not answer or do not make a commitment. I have to vote for them or against them yet they will not give me a answer…………… Secrecy is a looser……………..


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