Newly elected Rep. Ben McAdams is keeping a campaign promise: He’s holding two traditional town hall meetings this month, plus an open house in his new district office.
During the campaign last year, he attacked then-Rep. Mia Love for avoiding town hall meetings where anyone may ask anything.
Instead, she held 85 controlled small-group and open office meetings, though she would frequently call them town halls. She said she moved to those limited meetings as a safety measure amid reported threats to her and her family.
“I’m a better representative when I’m hearing from Utahns and I plan to have frequent listening sessions,” McAdams, D-Utah, said. “The Utah 4th Congressional District Office belongs to constituents, and I’m eager to begin helping them with any issue they may be having with the federal government.”
His first such sessions include:
• Jan. 22: He will hold an open house from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at his new district office, 9067 S. 1300 West in West Jordan.
• Jan. 23: A town hall meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Lehi City Hall, 153 N. 100 East in Lehi.
• Jan. 24: A town hall meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. at the West Valley City Hall, 3600 S. Constitution Boulevard, West Valley City.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, has also scheduled a town hall meeting Jan. 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Provo Recreation Center, 320 W. 500 North.
While those two newest members of the Utah delegation are holding town halls, such events had become a bit of a rarity here in recent years — at least along the Wasatch Front.
That started back in 2009, when the health care debate exploded into hostility at town hall meetings around the country, helping spur the populist tea party movement. Members of Utah’s delegation at the time stopped doing live town hall meetings.
Then, after President Donald Trump’s 2016 election, protesters nationally started crowding into such meetings to counter and shout down members who supported him. They grew so rowdy that former Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans even urged canceling town halls, saying they had become too dangerous.
Two 2017 town halls in Utah landed in national news as examples of unruliness:
• At Brighton High School in February 2017, protesters shouted down former Rep. Jason Chaffetz for his refusal to investigate Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. They yelled, “Explain yourself” — but Chaffetz had a tough time being heard over them. Chaffetz later told a radio show, “I thought it was intended to bully and intimidate.”
• In April 2017 with a capacity crowd at West High School, Rep. Chris Stewart also often could not be heard above shouts that included, “Do your job,” “liar” and “who are you in bed with?”