Rep. Thompson’s constituents to hold town hall, with or without him

Terry Melton holds up a sign as constituents gather outside of U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson’s Bellefonte office on Benner Pike on Thursday.
Terry Melton holds up a sign as constituents gather outside of U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson’s Bellefonte office on Benner Pike on Thursday. adrey@centredaily.com

Some of Glenn Thompson’s constituents really want him to hold a town hall meeting — so much so that they set one up and invited him to it.

Marc Friedenberg, a lecturer in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, created a Facebook event called Rep. Thompson Constituents’ Town Hall Meeting, which is set for 2 p.m. Saturday on Penn State’s campus.

He said he invited U.S. Rep. Thompson, R-Howard Township, but was told by his office that the congressman has a booked schedule for that day and won’t be able to attend.

But the town hall will still go on, even without him.

The plan is to offer members of the community the opportunity to ask the questions and share the stories they would have if Thompson were present and to record the meeting, Friedenberg, of State College, said.

As of Thursday afternoon, 145 people had marked their intention to attend the town hall, and another 355 had indicated they were interested.

“We want an opportunity to be heard and to know that we’ve been heard, and it’s a great opportunity for the congressman if he wants to come out and join us on Saturday. Or if he wants to set up another town hall at a time and place of his choosing somewhere in the district, we would be happy to attend that instead,” Friedenberg said. “But I’ve gotten emails from many, many people saying, ‘Thanks for organizing this because I didn’t know what to do with this energy that I have and now it has an outlet,’ and it’s not something that’s going to be fading away anytime soon.”

Among the issues people want to talk about are the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and environmental regulations being rolled back.

The meeting will also serve as a time to organize future events, he said.

Thompson told the CDT on Feb. 7 that he thinks the best way to communicate with his constituents is through meetings at one of his offices, rather than having a town hall.

And yet, a town hall is what about 75 of his constituents rallied for in front of his office near Bellefonte on Thursday afternoon.

It was the second rally there organized by a group of friends who felt “despondent” about the bills the congressman is supporting, said Kelli Hoover, of Pennsylvania Furnace.

The Penn State entomology professor said the group wants to have a town hall with Thompson to express their concerns and hear his explanations for why he’s voting the way he is.

She said she’s concerned about science and the environment under the Trump administration.

It seems, she said, like the Republicans are trying to overturn all of President Barack Obama’s rules, many of which are critical for protecting air, water and wildlife.

“(Thompson) always has an open door for constituents who are interested in meeting to discuss the issues. While there are certainly constituents with valid concerns, many protesters have turned down an opportunity to meet with the congressman personally,” Thompson’s Communications Director Renée Gamela said in a statement. “Although he has not ruled out hosting a town hall, Mr. Thompson will be responsible for organizing the event, not his political opposition.”

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

If you go

What: Rep. Thompson Constituents’ Town Hall Meeting

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: 111 Forum, University Park

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1916119601956540/