It's been years since Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) last held an in-person town hall with his constituents in Washington State's 8th Congressional District, which encompasses a beautiful stretch of land from east King County all the way to Wenatchee. Reichert's refusal to hold a public forum has been especially baffling since the November election, as residents have repeatedly demanded he come out of the shadows.
In February, during a Congressional recess, about 400 people showed up for an Empty Chair Town Hall in Cashmere, WA. Citizens have rallied outside his Issaquah office and followed him to public appearances.
Most recently, the local chapter of Indivisible Washington, an organizing group, invited Reichert to a town hall in Auburn, WA (his hometown) on July 22 at Green River College. He declined. Indivisible Washington, District 8 extended the invitation more than a month ago, according to Kayla Hill, the group's events coordinator.
But Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle), who represents Washington's 7th Congressional District, accepted an invitation from Indivisible Washington to speak at the event. In a statement, Jayapal said she feels compelled to hold a public forum with her colleague's constituents after speaking with residents in her own district who're "terrified" about "the impact Donald Trump's policies will have on their livelihoods." Jayapal, who started her first term as a Congresswoman in January, has held six town halls in her district, comprising most of Seattle and surrounding areas.
Said Jayapal: "Trump and House Republicans are pursuing an ideological agenda that puts the wealthy and corporations ahead of working families. People are deeply frustrated with our current political system, and need a space to voice their opinions—that’s what I intend to provide at this town hall"
Organizers say they plan to ask questions about the Republican health care plan, climate change and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. (Jayapal today introduced a resolution demanding the Trump administration turn over info on the firing of FBI director James Comey.)
"What we want everyone to take away is this event is bigger than Congressman Reichert," said Hill, 27. "It’s about our citizens feeling frustrated. I think it’s really important for us to have a space to have that dialogue to occur and our representatives to engage with us.
The Indivisible town hall is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 22 at 3 p.m. at Green River College in the student affairs building.
Reichert's office did not immediately respond to The Stranger's request for comment.