By Susan Larson
There was confusion Thursday as to whether or not an event billed as a Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Rob Wittman (R-01) was open to the public.
. pic.twitter.com/yxOmRjbzvk— Fredericksburg.Today (@Fxbg2day) April 6, 2017
In an email to Fredericksburg.Today, Wittman’s Communications Director Gregory Lemon said it was a town hall, and it was organized by Montross Mayor Joey King.
Pat at LifeCare Medical Transports confirmed in a phone call with Fredericksburg.Today that Rep. Wittman was holding a town hall there from 6 to 7 p.m. April 6.
But some people reported when they called Rep. Wittman’s office, they were told it was not open to the public. For example, Josephine Kamel wrote on Facebook, “His office stated this is not a town hall and not open to the public.”
“That may be our fault, because we were referring to it as a town hall,” said Kevin Dillard, president and CEO of LifeCare Medical Transports. It was meant to be a private event for staff, he said.
“Internally we called it a town hall meeting, that kind of question and answer format,” said Montross Mayor Joey King, who is also vice president of LifeCare Medical Transports. It was as the company’s vice president that he organized the meeting, he said. “If someone called [asking to attend], we weren’t going to turn them down,” he said.
Rep. Wittman said when he heard citizens we’re asking to attend, he approved. “I told Greg, listen, Joey’s put it together, and if people want to come, it’s fine.”
Not everyone in Wittman’s office got that message, however. Fredericksburg.Today readers reported calling the congressman’s office as late as 4 p.m., and being told they could not attend.
When asked why he wasn’t holding in-person town hall meetings, as requested by some constituents, Wittman said, “We’re doing things in what we believe is the most effective way possible.”
“We continually reach out to people,” Wittman said. “We’ve been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people in our telephone town halls, where we go to people, they don’t have to come to us.”
He said he’s also been scheduling time with small groups of all political affiliations throughout the district.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re doing things in a forum that is most effective,” he said. “A small group like this is much more effective than a giant auditorium with a bunch of folks there.”
Wittman said he also meets with people individually, and utilizes his Facebook page to communicate with constituents.
“I encourage folks to contact our office, to post their thoughts and ideas, to send an email, to call us,” he said. “We’re really pretty pleased in the number of people we’re able to substantively reach and answer their questions. It’s many more than what we could do in a large scale town hall.”
Still, there are constituents who want public, in-person, town hall meetings from Wittman.
Contact Rep. Wittman via:
Website: U. S. Congressman Rob Wittman
Facebook: Rep. Rob Wittman
Online email form: Send Me An Email
Rob Wittman Schedules April 6 Town Hall in Stafford