Congressional Workers Overwhelmed At Town Hall

Feb 10, 2017

 

This was going to be a town hall whether anyone planned it that way or not.

Hundreds of people piled into the boardroom of the Green County Board of Commissioners to speak with workers from the offices of Senator David Perdue, Senator Johnny Isakson and 10th Congressional District Representative Jody Hice. Things started well when Jessica Hayes from Hice’s office shared some news.

“This is the largest crowd we’ve ever had for mobile office hours,” she said.

The crowd erupted with cheers. The next piece of news changed the mood.

“It is not a town hall,” Hayes told the throng, “We are not going to have a town hall meeting.”

Then came a cascade of boos and cries of “Shame!” Then a chant: “This is what democracy looks like!”

The day actually began as a common piece of congressional field work. Legislators often send people from the office to meet with citizens one-on-one to help them navigate some personal problem with the federal government. It was soon clear the representatives were not prepared for the outpouring.

 

 

Congressional workers try to control the flow of people into their meeting, left, and take notes on the larger meeting, right.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

The room quickly organized itself into a town hall anyway. One after another, speakers came to the podium. Speakers expressed their fears about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, their opposition to President Trump’s Immigration Ban, education and other issues.

The field reps stuck to their plan, setting up shop in a back office to see people one at a time. Guarding the door was Jordan Wilcher, also of Hice’s office. Wilcher is a Marine Corps veteran having served two tours in Afghanistan as a machine gunner. He scheduled this event and said typically he’d see about four people, not 400.

 

Allison Troxell of Atlanta vents her frustration at the lack of a town hall format for the meeting with representatives of Georgia's two U.S. Senators and on House representative to Greg Ziesenhene of Senator David Perdue's office during an impromptu town hall in Greensboro, Ga.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

“This is exactly what I fought for,” Wilcher said. “Just because it doesn't express my opinion? No. I love this.”

The meeting ended about 20 minutes late, but peacefully.