Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jim Ramstad's Town Hall Meeting

Jim Ramstad will begin his series of summer Town Hall meetings tomorrow, with a forum at the Minnetonka City Hall. The Forum will take place at noon, and there is a 2nd area forum in Mound at 7pm.

These Town Hall meetings are a great chance to see the Congressman and ask your questions. The typical format is Congressman Ramstad giving a 10-15 minute presentation on current capitol hill activities, and then opening up the remainder of the hour for Q&A. You get a combination of very specific questions along with some more general topics of discussion.

What Congressman Ramstad does by having these forums is somewhat unique. We might take it for granted, but it is not part of a Congressperson's job description to have these Town Hall forums. I don't know for sure, but I would guess it is a small fraction of our Representatives that even have these forums. In the case of Ramstad, he knows very well that there will be groups from Move On and other organized movements who are there to heckle him, but he still shows up and opens himself up to questions and criticism. I respect that.

It is good that we have a Congressman who values dialogue with constituents above staying safe in an office behind staffers. It is also good that during a month of highly publicized Congressional recess, our Congressman is using part of his vacation to make the rounds in his district.


  1. Yes, it is a good thing that our congresspeople hold Town Hall meetings. Still, I must comment that Move On members and "other organized movements" are constituents and are not "hecklers" as you say, but informed citizens with many important issues just like any other attendee.

  2. You make a valid point, and you're right in that I shouldn't imply that any constituent doesn't have a right to be at those meetings.

    My "heckler" comment is from first hand experience. I once attended one of the Congressman's Town Hall meetings, and what I saw from one of these organized groups was a peanut gallery. They were not letting the Congressman finish his presentation points, yelling comments from the back of the room as other constituents attempted to raise points in a civil manner, and audibly moaning and groaning if the Congressman would ever answer a question that was even remotely along Republican party lines.

    Every constituent has a right to access to his or her Congressperson. But I should hope it is done in a civil and respectful manner, as the vast majority of people attempt to do.