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Mar 06

Town Halls: Why They Matter

On Saturday, February 9, some 120 persons gathered in the Carnegie Room in Penrose Library for a Town Hall meeting, a favorite arena of authors, educators, and political leaders.townhall3

After the audience settled in, Pete opened the session with introductions and proceeded to summarize his proposed bills. Like a trial attorney addressing the jury, he gave a well organized and spirited commentary on the benefits of his proposed legislation.

“My first priority is to create jobs and establish a pilot program of Economic Gardening to stimulate small businesses.”  His other bills will authorize the creation of Benefit Corporations, encourage Buy Colorado, create Capital Investment, and expand Restorative Justice.

During his unscripted time, Tony spoke in his authentic style to outline his proposed bills.  As a freshman lawmaker, he hopes to expand Breakfast After The Bell, a school nutrition program, and reform Unemployment Benefits.

Sensing the audience was anxiously awaiting their turn, Pete opened the session to questions.  Most people concentrated on their favorite issues regarding fracking, jobs, small business, health care, energy, solar gardens, education, and the inevitable gun violence.  Overall, Pete gave carefully crafted answers to questions such as surface rights versus mineral rights where fracking is involved.  To some questions, he responded, “I don’t have an answer for that.”

For the most part, the audience reaction was accepting and evenly distributed according to their concept of politicians.  Most questioners asked stimulating questions, listened intently, and made well argued positions.  It was their opportunity to quiz their two leaders who showed courtesy and professionalism.  As community leaders, Pete and Tony were respectful, gentle, and yet firm with their answers and sought to convince voters they made the right choice.

Afterwards, many waited to meet their representatives and ask more questions.  Meanwhile, most people stayed around to visit, speak with friends, and network with others well beyond the allotted time.  For some, such meetings are affirmation that we can assemble peacefully; they restore our belief that we can coexist despite philosophical differences, and remind us we have the unique ability to compromise.

–Joe Morgan