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Pressure Builds For Colorado Senators To Hold In-Person Town Halls

Luke Runyon
Republican Senator Cory Gardner speaks to reporters in a Denver conference center.

Colorado’s senators are under increasing pressure to hold more public meetings during Congressional breaks.

A weeklong recess from Congress took Sen. Cory Gardner up and down the Front Range, meeting with small groups and conferences in controlled settings, but the Republican from Yuma has yet to schedule an in-person town hall.

In other states, town hall meetings have drawn hundreds of angry constituents looking to voice their frustration with the new Trump administration. While at an agriculture forum in Denver, Gardner says he’s met with constituents across the political spectrum.

“I meet with people who support the president. I meet with people who didn’t support the president daily,” Gardner says. “And certainly it’s important to hear from all voices of Colorado.”

But when pressed by reporters about his next in-person town hall meeting, he would not commit to a specific date. Instead, the senator has opted for more subdued telephone-mediated meetings.

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet also did not hold an in-person town hall during the recess, opting instead for a Congressional delegation trip to Cuba and Colombia. He too has instructed his staff to organize telephone town halls.

Both senators have drawn the ire of voters upset with a lack of facetime with the elected officials, some going so far to print-out missing person posters with Gardner’s face and posting them in Front Range communities. A group in Denver arranged for one such poster to be projected on the side of the Denver Art Museum.

They’re feeling the heat on social media as well, with nearly every tweet in the last few weeks from each senator garnering replies of, “when’s the next town hall?”

As KUNC’s managing editor and reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I edit and produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.
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