Release: Accessibility in New Hampshire shouldn't be a partisan issue
(January 22, 2015) - New Hampshire once had a long, bipartisan tradition of its elected officials holding public Town Hall meetings with their constituents. That custom went by the wayside over the past couple of years as Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster (NH-02), and former Congresswoman Shea-Porter (NH-01) refused to join Senator Ayotte in holding open forums.
If the first month of the new Congress in Washington and the new gubernatorial term in Concord is any inclination though, it appears that once again, only the conservative members of the Granite State's delegation believe it is important to be accessible to their constituents.
While none of the state's top Democrats have announced a single public forum, Senator Ayotte will close out the month of January adding a few more Town Hall meetings to the list of dozens she has hosted since 2011. Her tradition of accessibility even resulted in a Concord Monitor editorial this week proclaiming that "Ayotte should not stand alone" in holding Town Hall meetings.
According to the NHJournal, with Congressman Guinta (NH-01)'s Town Hall meeting in Hampton this weekend, he will now have held thirty open forums throughout the state after the twenty nine he hosted during his last term in 2011 and 2012. He too has received many accolades for his strong focus on accessibility and constituent service.
Derek Dufresne, spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, released the following statement:
"While Granite Staters have grown to expect a divide between liberals and conservatives on many of the important issues being discussed in Washington and Concord, accessibility, transparency, and public accountability are three that should bridge the partisan gap. Regardless of party affiliation or one's positions on the issues, all of New Hampshire's elected officials should make a point to hold Town Hall meetings with their constituents. The fact that this isn't happening already is shameful.
"We commend Senator Ayotte and Congressman Guinta for continuing to uphold our state's tradition of public forums and for giving their constituents the open venue to advocate for their beliefs. Conversely, we continue to be extremely disappointed in Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and Congresswoman Kuster for hiding from those whom they swore an oath to represent."