By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
The thing about town hall meetings with legislators, figures one 5th Congressional District resident, is that everyone should be in favor of them.
“It’s not one of those political asks that has two sides to it, even,” said Sheri Wells-Jensen, a Bowling Green resident, pointing out that whether people agree or disagree with their elected representatives, they want to be heard by them.
Her representative in the U.S. House, Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, has not announced any town hall events during next week’s congressional recess. Neither have Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, Republican Sen. Rob Portman or Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Wells-Jensen and some of her friends in the district have been calling Latta’s offices to ask for a town hall.
“He’ll be around for a fundraiser, but we can’t meet with him,” Wells-Jensen said.
Latta has no town halls on his schedule “at this time,” his communications director, Drew Griffin, wrote in an email Tuesday. He said Latta’s office was still working on his schedule.
Some of Latta’s constituents, led by Wells-Jensen, filmed a video of themselves singing a song asking, “Oh, where, oh, where has Bob Latta gone? Oh, where, oh, where has he been?”
She said the song was inspired by seeing “missing” posters of Latta, which ask “Have you seen this man?” and accuse him of refusing to schedule a town hall with constituents.
Wells-Jensen posted a “quick demo” of the song on Facebook, playing her ukulele, and said the video would be filmed at Grounds for Thought, a Bowling Green coffee shop.
“If we get 10 people, I’ll be overjoyed,” Wells-Jensen thought. About 20 people appear in the video.
“They had so much fun. We did several takes of it,” she said.
The song is posted on YouTube under the title “‘Oh, where has Bob Latta gone?’ performed by Survivors of the Bowling Green Massacre.”
The video has not garnered a response from Latta or his office, Wells-Jensen said.
Griffin did not directly address a request for comment on the video or on an online petition asking for a town hall meeting.
A petition entitled “Call for Congressman Latta to Hold a Public Townhall” on www.ipetitions.com has 360 signatures. However, nothing ensures the signers are from Latta’s district, and some who included their locations are from other states.
Griffin wrote that Latta finds his constituents’ thoughts and concerns important and has therefore “held over 700 constituent meetings in the district over the previous few years. That number includes courthouse conferences, where constituents can receive help with casework and share their views with the congressman.”
He added that Latta also has “telephone town halls when he is in Washington. These interactions, along with the emails, letters, and phone calls to our offices, have been very effective in helping the congressman hear the views from a constituency that stretches across 14 counties.”
Jim Jordan, who represents the 4th Congressional District, will attend two events on Monday for Presidents Day. His communications director, Darin Miller, wrote in an email that while they are public events, neither is a town hall.
Jordan will first go to the Harding Home Presidential Site in Marion from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. If weather permits, he will spend time with visitors on the home’s front porch, as Warren G. Harding did when campaigning for president in 1920.
He will then travel to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Fremont, where children who correctly answer trivia questions about presidents can go on horse-drawn rides sponsored by Jordan. That event will be held from 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
When asked why Jordan was not having a town hall in addition to those events, Miller replied, “He’s meeting with various local officials, business owners and constituent groups next week. He held a district-wide telephone town hall late last month and has plans to hold another in the next few weeks.”
Portman will be in Ohio, according to his deputy chief of staff and communications director Kevin Smith, but no details were provided.
Smith wrote Wednesday in an email, “We don’t release our schedule a week in advance, but Rob will have an active schedule in the state next week.”
When asked how far in advance constituents would learn about a town hall, if one were scheduled, Smith mentioned Portman’s telephone town halls and his weekly constituent coffees, which are held in Washington, D.C., and encouraged people to go to Portman’s website to sign up for newsletters or submit opinions.
Portman is the keynote speaker for the Seneca County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 22, according to the party’s website, www.senecarepublicans.org.
The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Terra State Community College, with Portman speaking at 7:15 p.m.
A spokesperson for Brown, Rachel Petri, emailed that Brown will not have any public events in the Findlay area next week.
She mentioned some recent conference calls with Ohioans and said, “He held a public event in Cincinnati on Monday and is planning to hold another public event in Youngstown next week.”
Brown talked about infrastructure projects at the Cincinnati appearance. Details on the Youngstown event were unavailable.