U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, is getting an earful and a tweetful from constituents demanding that he hold a town hall in Bend.
Holding town hall meetings should be part of his job. He should regularly hold town meetings across his district. And his staff says he is committed to holding a town hall in Bend this year.
But many are claiming that Walden is somehow in hiding. That he is refusing to face his constituents.
Is that true? We looked back through Bulletin archives and records provided by Walden back to 2012. He has not been hiding.
The last time he held a town hall meeting in Bend was January 2013. He had also held one in Bend in 2012.
You could argue he should hold more in Bend. But he held meetings in Deschutes County every year from 2012 to 2016. He held meetings in Redmond in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and one in La Pine in 2013. People from Redmond and La Pine routinely have to drive to Bend for other meetings. People from Bend can drive to those towns, too, right?
If a person couldn’t make those meetings, he held others in Central Oregon. He held a meeting in Prineville in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He held meetings the same years in Madras. So if a person lives in Central Oregon, there were multiple opportunities to meet Walden at a town hall meeting every year.
Walden’s district is the seventh largest by area in the country. The most populous county is not even Deschutes County. It is Jackson County, which includes Medford. He has held a town hall meeting in Jackson County every year from 2012 through 2016.
All told Walden has 20 counties in his district. People in less populated districts shouldn’t be ignored. He has actually held at least one in-person town hall meeting in every county in his district every year since 2012. He has visited seven counties so far in 2017, Gilliam, Grant, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler.
Town hall meetings are not the only times Walden shows up. He met with smaller groups about specific issues in the same time period. No, they weren’t town halls. That doesn’t mean they don’t matter. We happened to go on a tour he went on to learn more about HeadStart in Redmond. We went to two meetings he held with brewers in Bend about federal regulations. We went to a meeting he held in Baker City to help settle a dispute between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management. He held a meeting recently in Prineville to try to clear up confusion about energy supplied by the Bonneville Power Administration. There are many other examples.
This clamor over Walden “hiding” comes after the election of Donald Trump. Some people are dissatisfied with Trump — to put it mildly. They are disappointed in Walden’s reaction or lack thereof. They want the opportunity to deliver that message and others loud and clear.
They should have that opportunity. And there is no evidence that they aren’t going to get it. To argue Walden is in hiding or has been afraid to face his constituents is not true. If anything, it’s an alternative fact.