Senator Jeff Flake hosts town hall meeting, lays out ground rules

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 21:33:28-04

Hundreds of people lined up outside the Mesa Convention center on Thursday afternoon to attend a town hall meeting hosted by Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

The room seated less than 1,800 people and was on a first come, first serve basis.

Senator Flake's website outlined a "town hall code of conduct" saying constituents could line up on the property one hour before the program begins.

Attendees with signs, banners or objects that create a disturbance would not be admitted, and this was to "ensure a safe, enjoyable, and productive town hall."

The rules also stated that all attendees must comply with posted and audible instructions and failure to comply would result in immediate removal.

Senator Flake is not the only one posting ground rules for town halls. Many lawmakers have been going that route after seeing passionate crowds shouting out questions, chanting, booing and jeering at town halls throughout the country.

Concerned voters said the tone at these town halls was indicative of the mood of the country.

"It is very telling about where we are as a country right now. The division we have. The anger we have," Lauren Ghazikhanian, a member of a citizen group called Indivisible.
Members of the group said they camped outside Senator Flake's office once a week, and tried to call him every day to ask the tough questions they were concerned about — but got no answers.

"The daily routine is get up, call the senator's office in Washington, call the senator's office in Phoenix, both McCain and Flake, then call the representatives," said Catherine Castaneda, who also camped outside Flake's office with signs every Tuesday morning.  

"They did put me on a mailing list. So I get the Flake news when it comes out, but it doesn't tell us anything," said Castaneda.

Jaclyn Boyes was also frustrated by the lack of access to her lawmakers.

"I've tried through Facebook, Twitter, email, phone. There was a time when the lines were jammed up. It took over 4,885 people to sign a petition online to get an in-person town hall," Boyes said.

Some said they were surprised to see the ground rules laid out for those who wanted to attend the town hall.

"A person raising their voice is showing their passion. To me that's not rowdy," said PJ Cole, a concerned voter attending the event.

"I think the rules are there to protect Senator Flake, so he does not feel put on the spot or look stupid if he doesn't want to answer any questions," Ghazikhanian added.

Castaneda said she planned to obey the rules, but was not afraid to speak up if she felt the senator was avoiding the tough questions.

"If I get kicked out, I get kicked out. That's still not going to stop me from going to his office every week with my signs," Castaneda said.

Doors open at 7 PM.