Hawaii Congressional Delegation Has Mixed Town Hall Record

Oct 8, 2019

An analysis of the number of town halls by Hawaii's Congressional delegation indicates the members have an inconsistent record of holding voter events at home.

A count by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser of three years of town halls by the state's U.S. senators and representatives showed mixed results, the newspaper reported Monday.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono held two town halls in 2017, and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard held seven 2017 town halls. But neither of them has held one since then.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz held six town halls in 2017, none in 2018 and four so far this year.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case took office in January and has held 10 town halls this year.

The newspaper's analysis included only in-person town halls in Hawaii that were open to the general public and not focused on specific constituencies, such as veterans or seniors.

"I think that there are certain members of Congress that either don't like it or they think it's risky, and we don't think those are good reasons not to do your job hearing from constituents," said Nathan Williams, executive director of the Town Hall Project, which tracks Congressional town halls.

Hirono said she hosts hundreds of Hawaii residents every year in Washington, D.C.

A Gabbard spokesman said she and staff members have held numerous other constituent events.

Schatz did not respond to a question about his lack of town halls in 2018, although he held a "telephone town hall" that year so constituents could call in.

Case told constituents during a town hall, "I think that discussions like this are so incredibly important in a democracy."