Sen. Cantwell to host town halls; other lawmakers still stay away

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

SEATTLE — Sen. Maria Cantwell  on Wednesday night hosted the first of three open meetings held to “hear directly from constituents.” The events will be free of charge and open to all.

UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey will join the 3-term senator to talk about the future of health care Wednesday. The other events, slated for July 7 and 9, will cover net neutrality and general questions from the public.

Cantwell’s first town hall this year follows months of pressure from Seattle Indivisible, a politically liberal group opposed to many aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“For the past 5+ months, Seattle Indivisible has been persistently calling on Senator Maria Cantwell to schedule open, public Town Hall meetings so that her constituents can directly hear from her and ask her questions,” Seattle Indivisible said in a release. “Well, it worked.”

Cantwell is up for reelection in 2018.

Cantwell is not the only lawmaker to stay clear of open forum events, especially in recent years. According to the Seattle Times, Washington Senator Patty Murray hasn’t held a town hall since 2013. And Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who has hosted town halls in the past, says he won’t host  any more town halls because he finds them counterproductive and unsafe.

Instead, Reichert holds hour-long meetings with people in groups of eight to 10, he said.

He has faced growing discontent in his refusal to hold the meetings. In February, hundreds met outside his Issaquah office, chanting "Come on out, Dave."

Freshman Congresswoman Pramilla Jayapal has hosted several town halls, and so have Reps. Derek Kilmer and Rick Larson.

Though tickets to Cantwell's event are free, reservations need to be made through her office.

More on the events:

Health Care Town Hall
On July 5th, Senator Cantwell, joined by Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of Harborview Hospital and Dean of the UW School of Medicine, will answer questions on the future of health care policy and listen to constituents’ concerns about the proposed Trumpcare bill in the Senate.
Date: Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Kane Hall, Roethke Auditorium, University of Washington

Net Neutrality Town Hall
On July 7th, Senator Cantwell will host FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for a town hall discussion moderated by Michael Schultzer, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association, on how rolling back net neutrality protections will hurt internet users and Washington’s tech industry. The pair will answer questions about net neutrality and related issues and discuss a way forward. Recently, rules put in place during the Obama Administration protecting a free and open internet have come under attack.
Date: Friday, July 7, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Town Hall Seattle

Town Hall
On July 8th, Senator Cantwell will answer questions from constituents on a variety of issues and discuss her work in the U.S. Senate.
Date: Saturday, July 8, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: TEC High School Gymnasium