VISTA — As some Republican House members are scaling back or canceling in-person town halls over concerns of the meetings being “hijacked” by activist groups, voices are growing louder locally for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to host one of his own in his district.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) was the latest to put his in-person town hall schedule on hold, according to a report appearing in USA Today. MacArthur was quoted as saying that he doesn’t, “want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of.”
Two other Republican House members, Rep. Chris Collins (New York) and Rep. Peter Roskam (Illinois), according to the report, have also said they don’t plan to host any in-person town halls because of the “current hostile climate.”
The latest group of protestors at Issa’s Vista headquarters voiced their want for an in-person town hall on Tuesday. Issa represents the 49th district, which includes the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, Del Mar, Camp Pendleton, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe, and several other communities in Orange County.
Issa’s last in-person town hall meeting was held in Oceanside back in October 2016 to discuss sober-living homes.
According to Calvin Moore, a spokesman for Issa’s Washington, D.C., office, Congressman Issa will continue meeting with constituents and will both hold and attend a multitude of public events in the area over the coming weeks.
Issa has been invited to attend a town hall meeting sponsored by the SEIU and labor unions Feb. 21 at the Jim Porter Recreation Center.
Moore said the Congressman is still finalizing his schedule for that week. By press time, no confirmation had been given as to whether Issa would be attending the meeting.
“Throughout the year, the Congressman and his staff will hold a number of listening sessions, roundtables, and town hall meetings both in-person, online and over the telephone to accommodate the diverse schedules and allow everyone an opportunity to participate,” Moore said. For town hall meetings in particular, we’ve traditionally held them in a mix of venues — livestreamed on Facebook Live, over the telephone, and in person.”
On Jan. 25 the congressman announced a town hall conference call with constituents on his website and through social media outlets.
The approximately hour-long conference call had about 6,000 constituents on the line, talking a huge range of issues such as healthcare, President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and other issues important to the community, according to Moore.
However, some district residents told The Coast News that they had signed up for the conference call, though received no reply to listen in.
Moore explained that that could have been for a number of reasons.
“A few hours before the call kicks off, we have to provide our list to the call provider, so if someone signs up just before call-time, they might miss it, but we always ensure they get added to the list for the next meeting and are happy to take any concerns or questions they may have right to the Congressman,” Moore said. “The office follows-up with participants who have questions not addressed on the call.”
Jackson Smith is a member of the Facebook group called the California 49th District Action Network. The former Carlsbad resident, who now lives in Carmel Mountain Ranch, which is out of Issa’s district, would like to see Issa host another in-person town hall soon.
“I think that he needs to be voting, and he needs to be making decisions that reflect the beliefs of his constituents, and so far he’s not accurately representing what we want him to do,” Smith said. “He’s just voting along party lines, and we don’t want him to do that.”
Smith participates with the local chapter of the Indivisible movement, an organization that offers a “practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda,” according to its website.
He said the biggest issues he has with Issa are over the recent immigration ban, which is now being put on hold following a Ninth Circuit Court ruling issued earlier this month, and his stance on defunding Planned Parenthood.
“He has to have them (in-person town hall meetings),” Smith said. “We pay taxes for these town hall meetings.”
Staff from the offices of Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) did not respond for comment on whether he’d be hosting any in-person town halls in the near future. His office in Temecula has also been the target of rallies from the Indivisible movement.