In this month’s “Pam’s Perspective” — Reaching constituents one Town Hall at a time.
It is right there in my title — “Represent.” Each state representative’s legislative district has about 60,000 constituents.
In an ideal world, that had limitless hours, I would be able to sit at each and everyone’s kitchen table to discuss your views of state government and to learn what you think the legislature’s priorities should be.
Since joining each household at their table is not realistic, I regularly host a forum whereby important dialogue can take place between my constituents and me. The goals of my Town Hall meetings are: to inform constituents about how the legislative process works; dialogue about current legislative initiatives and to identify other state related concerns.
I began holding Town Halls in July 2011 and May 12th will mark my 56th Town Hall meeting. That meeting will take place at Cathedral Village at 7pm and our special guest will be Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.
The Town Halls are held at various locations around the district and we try to ensure that the locations are accessible by public transportation and are ADA compliant.
We convene at 7PM and on many occasions the Town Hall will end after 9PM. The length is dictated by the audience not me. Constituents come from all parts of the district to participate providing a variety of input.
The Town Halls are also periodically held mid-morning to accommodate those who aren’t available in the evening. On 6 occasions I have conducted a Town Hall via telephone.
This format works well in the winter time when there can be inclement weather that prevents safe travel. During telephone Town Halls we reach over 2000 constituents.
At all of the Town Halls we cover many topics- some easy and others more difficult topics, e.g. the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms and medical marijuana. The discourse is always civil, as it is imperative that we listen to each other with an open mind and respectfully.
Attendees range in age from high schoolers and the occasional elementary school student to our most senior of citizens.
As one constituent commented- “Through her Town Hall meetings Pam keeps us informed about legislative issues as well as providing a forum for our feedback. We have learned a lot about the nitty gritty of how our legislative process works.”
Also, annually I host a “Voices of the Community” event where citizens of the 194th are invited to comment about their priorities on the proposed state budget. Our “5th Voices of the Community” event will be held in early June.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Pam for winning the Democratic nomination for representative of Pennsylvania’s 194th district in the April 26 primary. She’ll face Bill Pounds in the November election, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination. DeLissio defeated Pounds in 2014 when she won her third term.