Congressman Lee Zeldin has announced he’ll hold a “telephone town hall” Thursday night to provide constituents an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns to him by phone.
“Telephone town halls allow me the opportunity to speak directly with thousands of Suffolk County residents, to hear your concerns and discuss the best path forward for our community and county,” Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday.
The hour-long event is scheduled between 7 and 8 p.m. Constituents in the First Congressional District can register here: https://zeldin.house.gov/contact/opt-request-telephone-town-halls
Some residents are still calling for a face-to-face town hall meeting with the congressman.
Quogue resident Eileen Duffy and Kathryn Casey Quigley of Greenport — organizers of the Facebook group “Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin” — met with Mr. Zeldin Wednesday morning to reiterate their request for an in-person town hall meeting. They also described his planned telephone and mobile town halls as inadequate.
Ms. Casey Quigley added she believes a telephone town hall is a controlled setting where there’s no sense of community and it’s harder to tell stories and ask follow-up questions.
“It’s just not the same democratic process that we envision when talking to our representative in Congress,” she said. “I think people like to see their congressmen in person and to have a real dialogue as opposed to silence and just one person speaking.”
Ms. Duffy has participated in several protests, including a demonstration at Mr. Zeldin’s office in Riverhead earlier this month. She said in an email she believes constituents are asking for a town hall meeting where he will “fearlessly lead a discussion with a respectful crowd.”
“Many of those asking for a town hall have put in requests to meet one on one and have yet to hear back from Rep. Zeldin or his staff,” she said.
In an email Wednesday, Mr. Zeldin’s spokesperson Jennifer DiSiena said the congressman enjoyed meeting with Ms. Duffy and Ms. Casey Quigley.
“The Congressman has had many great meetings with constituents who may be on the other side of the aisle,” she said. “He appreciates that although they may disagree on certain political issues, they can still have an open dialogue and discuss important policy issues in a civil manner. Congressman Zeldin has always been willing to work with absolutely anyone to move our community, state and nation forward.”
Topics Mr. Zeldin discussed with constituents over the past two days included healthcare, immigration and education, Ms. DiSiena said.
“The individual meetings take more time, but have proven to be much more effective,” Ms. DiSiena said, adding Mr. Zeldin will also hold mobile office hours next week.
File photo: Congressman Lee Zeldin at The Emporium in Patchogue on Nov. 11, 2016. (Credit: John Griffin)