After their pleas to Rep. Greg Walden to hold a town hall in Hood River went nowhere, residents took matters into their own hands. They organized a Constituent Town Hall this Saturday at the Hood River Middle School. But in an unexpected turn, Walden may be holding his own town hall in the city, as well as in The Dalles, next week.
Walden’s communications director, Andrew Malcolm, said an announcement will be made about the Gorge town halls once the dates, times and locations are finalized. Walden, a Republican from Hood River, has been criticized for not holding town hall meetings in the population centers of the sprawling 2nd congressional district, including Medford, Bend and Hood River.
Walden did hold a telephone town hall in February, with 4,000 people listening in. He also held seven town halls in smaller cities scattered around the district, before he and fellow Republicans unveiled the replacement for the Affordable Care Act. These included Mitchell (population 126, the smallest) and Ontario (population 11,091, the largest).
While Walden won re-election last year with nearly 72 percent of the vote, he won Hood River by only five votes.
Bonnie New, a retired physician and organizer of the Saturday constituent-led event, said she contacted Walden’s office several times and even sent him an invitation by certified mail, but got no response. So New’s group, Indivisible Columbia Gorge, joined with six other citizen groups to organize their own event.
“There have been thousands of attempts from this area to contact him and get a response by email, faxes, calling to his district offices and Washington D.C. office,” New said. “Nobody gets a response, and you can’t leave a phone message because sometimes it’s full.”
Malcolm, Walden’s spokesman, told the Hood River News that Walden would be unable to attend due to a previously scheduled event. Malcolm has said that the congressman holds a town hall in all 20 counties in the district each year. In an email to the Business Journal, he said his office could find no record of New contacting them before a March 27 email.