SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The long-awaited public town hall meeting with NY-21 Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, has been scheduled for next week in South Glens Falls, according to Kelly Obermayer, director of development for the Moreau Community Center.
The event was recently scheduled for Thursday, April 5, at the Moreau Community Center, 144 Main St. in South Glens Falls, and Stefanik is hosting the event, said Obermayer on Thursday afternoon.
“The doors will open at 11:30 a.m., and it runs from 12 to 1 p.m.,” said Obermayer. “Mark Frost (editor of The Chronicle in Glens Falls) will be the moderator and it is open to the press and the public.”
Nonetheless, there are size and parking limits at the community center.
“They asked us how many it would seat and we said, ‘200,’” Obermayer said. “I wish I could pack more in.”
As far as parking, Obermayer said that Kilmer Funeral Home, two doors down from the center, has always been cooperative and if there is not an event scheduled at the funeral home on Thursday, some people can park there.
“I will know the night before the town hall,” she said. “If it is available, I will post a sign. Look for a sign that says ‘event parking’ with an arrow.”
Since last year, constituents have been asking the congresswoman to hold an open public town hall meeting, and Thursday’s announcement comes in on the heels of a recent Sunday Post-Star story detailing constituent concerns about Stefanik’s lack of public forums in the area, and a Post-Star editorial inviting the congresswoman to hold a public town hall locally.
While many are making plans to attend, some have expressed concerns about the venue size, worried they will not get into the forum.
“I am planning on going,” said LoisAnn Jahne of Cambridge. “I find the suddenness of the announcement to be interesting, as well as the limited time frame and number of people who can fit in per fire code.”
After four attempts to contact various sources on Stefanik’s team on Thursday afternoon, The Post-Star was unable to have specific questions answered.
The questions include: How will questions and entry be handled? Who will handle security? What if there is a large crowd and the space does not hold everyone — will there be some means for others to participate? Was there a reason for the time and location? How was the moderator selected?
Instead, spokesman Tom Flanagin sent an online link to The Post-Star to get answers from a story published Thursday in The Chronicle of Glens Falls. The Post-Star again requested answers to the list of questions, but did not receive a response.
According to the story Flanagin referenced, “Mark Frost will moderate at the congresswoman’s request.”
In a report to Congress last year — “Millennials & the GOP: Rebuilding Trust with an Untapped Electorate” — Stefanik said that holding town halls is one of the four recommended best practices for reaching millennial constituents.
Stefanik, in the report, advises lawmakers to use a local university or high school to stage a town hall, even though this event has been scheduled for a smaller venue.
At an April 2017 “Coffee with Your Congresswoman” event held at a senior center in Johnstown, Joe Seeman, a Saratoga County political activist, asked Stefanik about holding a town hall in the Glens Falls region.
“Will you commit to having a public town hall in a large place that will fit hundreds and hundreds of people, and soon?” Seeman asked.
Stefanik said, at the time, a town hall in Glens Falls was in the planning stages.
Constituents told The Post-Star in earlier interviews they want to let the congresswoman know how her votes and actions affect their ability to pay for prescription drugs; keep their farms running; buy groceries; and keep their wells, streams and lakes free from contaminants.
Some of the issues constituents hope to address during the upcoming forum include gun issues, public education, access to health care, the environment and the Russia probe.
“I’ve been waiting almost a year to speak to her again,” said Sara Carpenter of Queensbury. “I plan to be there and hope to finally get a direct answer to my questions.”