GLENS FALLS — Local activists elevated their criticism of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik this week for not holding a town hall meeting in her home district with constituents, making use of a stage without her at the Crandall Public Library.
A crowd estimated at about 200 residents packed a library meeting room that safely seats 175. The topics most frequently raised were health care, education and the environment. Video of the event will be provided to Stefanik (R-Willsboro), according to Martha Devaney, one of the organizers.
Tom Flanagin, communications director for Stefanik, said the congresswoman’s appearance in Glens Falls on February 22 was impossible because she was part of an “official” trip for new members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that had been scheduled in early January. Stefanik was recently appointed to that committee.
Nationwide, activists affiliated with groups such as MoveOn and the Working Families Party have made concerted efforts to attend town hall events as the 115th U.S. Congress went into a recess period.
Usually, federal lawmakers themselves try to connect with constituents by organizing such town hall events.
“The big lie that you’re hearing is that we’re all paid protesters,” offered Joe Seeman, a veteran Saratoga Springs activist and MoveOn volunteer. “We simply want our representative to do her job,” he said.
In the time Stefanik has represented New York’s 21st Congressional District, according to Flanagin, she has attended hundreds of personalized events and she plans to maintain that level of constituent outreach. The district covers most of northern upstate New York, and Stefanik has offices in Glens Falls, Plattsburgh and Watertown.
“All groups have been encouraged to reach out to her offices to request in-person, small group meetings to ensure productive issue discussions instead of nationalized political events where the sole purpose is political theater,” Flanagin said on behalf of Stefanik.
He added that constituents are invited to participate in “teletownhalls” with Stefanik by registering through her website: stefanik.house.gov/contact/request-appearance.