Several dozen constituents are seeking Rep. Randy Hultgren’s views on a proposed repeal of Obamacare, President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointments and his recent string of controversial executive orders, including on immigration.
And the best way — they say — would be for the 14th District Republican to let constituents voice concerns and hear Hultgren’s responses via a public town-hall meeting.
More than 100 people gathered outside his Campton Hills district office Feb. 23 to reinforce the request, the latest protest over what many viewed as Hultgren’s lack of accountability.
“This is a tradition, this has been going on since 1776, we want town halls with our representatives,” said Jeanne Scown, a Geneva resident who has frequented Hultgren protests.
“We want to impress on him that we’re a number of people who just had a lot of questions,” said Toni Watrobka, another participant. “We’re not Democrats, we’re not Republicans, we’re not independents, we just want to hear your rationale and we want you to hear what we’re anxious about.”
Hultgren has not officially responded.
The Plano Republican is now in his fourth term representing Illinois’ 14th district, which includes portions of McHenry, Lake, Kendall, Kane, DuPage, DeKalb and Will counties.
The House of Representatives was in recess last week, allowing legislators to return home for district business and meetings. A staffer cited office policy and declined to reveal Hultgren’s schedule, referring any questions to a media spokesman in Washington D.C.
Hultgren’s suburban colleague — Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6th) — has faced similar pressures and reportedly turned down three town-hall invitations from the League of Women Voters
Roskam decried the unproductive “circus” atmosphere generated at in-person town-hall meetings and instead held a meeting last month that reportedly attracted 18,000 callers.
The telephone town hall required advance sign-up through Roskam’s campaign website and reportedly experienced some dropped calls and poor audio.
In other parts of the country, Republican Congressmen and U.S. Senators appearing at recent town-hall meetings have met with sometimes angry overflow audiences.
Much of the ire has centered on a Republican efforts to repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which allowed more people access to health care insurance.
In a recent tweet, Trump brushed off the anger and attributed it to “liberal activists.”
“The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” Trump tweeted.
During Thursday’s peaceful gathering at Hultgren’s office, protestors stood on a grassy slope in cold, windy conditions that turned rain about halfway through the scheduled hour-long event.
They also encouraged passing motorists to honk horns in support. Many did, but at least one driver shouted out support for Trump.
Three participants went inside Hultgren’s office to present a memo to a staffer, calling on the representative to commit to opposing Affordable Care Act changes.
Asked if she knew whether Hultgren planned to schedule a public meeting, the staffer said, “I have no information on that.”
Hultgren has had small meetings with constituents. One activist at Tuesday’s protest said he had recently met with 10 people, two at a time.
Hultgren has also expressed his views on social media.
“I’m answering your most pressing healthcare questions from your recent phone calls, emails and meetings with me,” he said.
Hultgren said around 21,000 district residents have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but that it was “failing fast,” according to a Facebook video, which ran for 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
“It’s time to keep what’s working and reform the rest,” Hultgren said.
The Facebook post generated more than 100 comments through late last week. Most were critical of Hultgren’s ACA opposition, but also took him to task for failing to appear in public.
“It’s so easy to speak to a camera,” wrote a Facebook user identified as Skip Weiss. “But to have meaningful dialogue with your constituents? Now that requires curiosity, conversation, even a strong stomach when your constituents have something to discuss you might not agree with.
“The truth is you’re hiding,” he added. “You don’t deserve the trust of your constituency.”
Hultgren has announced one upcoming public event. His office sent out a recent press release for a March 3 meeting on veteran’s issues in Geneva. He’s scheduled to participate in a discussion at the Geneva American Legion Post 75, 22 South Second St., from 2:30-4 p.m.
— Hultgren’s turn to draw heat as constituents seek town hall meeting —