Is Robert Hurt afraid of his constituents?

My Congressman, Robert Hurt, had a recess in August, along with the rest of Congress. He decided not to have town hall meetings with all his constituents, but to drive down a highway in the extreme southern portion of the district, Route 58. To be fair, there was also a “Route 29 Tour” Where I live, Cumberland County, is on neither of those roads.

The previous Congressman in the 5th district, Tom Perriello, held 20 or 21 meetings with constituents in every corner of the district, both years he served. He genuinely wanted to listen and answer questions from citizens. Arguably this is a high bar set by Mr. Perriello.

Hurt’s official page from his House website details the places he stopped, and what was talked about. Wouldn’t you know it, everyone wanted to talk about the talking points of the Republican Party. Size of government, jobs, “grow the economy”, government regulations. You know, the litany of issues that supposedly defines this Congress and Rep. Hurt’s place in it.

The problem with what Rep. Hurt did is that large swaths of the 5th Congressional District went unvisited. Also, the visits were at restaurants, work sites, and other venues. No meetings took place with the Congressman and his constituents where one on one questions could be asked. No meetings where as many people wanted to could attend. It is a quite different situation to ask a question while standing around at a gas station restaurant and three people next to him.

I feel the spirit of what was supposed to be was tainted because of this action. In fact, several locations and counties had only the benefit of a staff member in a local library meeting room to ask questions of. The job of the Representative is to try to answer all questions, take on all comers, and to answer to the best of his abilities. Questions he might not want to hear could have been asked, ones that are no less important than the ones where he had a mostly friendly audience.

I am not suggesting that we as citizens lie in wait for the Congressman, far from it. But not everyone agrees with the direction of the current Congress. Some would like answers about things like why very few (less than ten certainly) bills about jobs have been brought before the House. At the same time, bills for changing laws and making new laws about a myriad of other subjects, mostly social policy have been brought up and voted on.

Even bills masquerading as economic help for workers out of work, deeply slanted to not benefit the workers, but the corporations that donate heavily to Congress members have been put forth.

I know abortion is a sensitive issue for lots of people, but do we really need a dozen laws restricting the rights of women to make their own medical decisions? The procedure is not against the law, but this Congress would like to change the laws to make things that way.

Robert Hurt has been content to go along to get along, using convenient sound bites and phrases to endear himself to those who voted for him and contributed to him. There is one problem with that however:

He represents all of us. Or at least he is supposed to.

I resent not being able to ask him a question that I want an answer to in front of my community. There are also many others who don’t like to stand up and ask questions, and when I ask one or two, maybe it was close to the question they would have asked.

Congressman Hurt needs to remember that he does represent all of us in this district. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and others. It is his job to communicate with us and if nothing else, for us to find out how he is doing. So far, I see none of that happening.

Is Robert Hurt scared to face ALL of his constituents?


20 thoughts on “Is Robert Hurt afraid of his constituents?

    1. The difference with Tom Perriello is so striking. I guess I was spoiled by his approach of inclusivity that now I feel like I am in the dark. Of course, the two are also worlds apart in terms of policy too.

  1. I live in Hampton and vote with the little sliver of Hampton that votes with Virginia Beach. So I never see candidates have meetings over here. Even when they are running for office they tend to not have campaign events over here. However, I live in Scott Rigells district. He did have a couple town halls where he meet with all people not small select groups and he has been sending info out using social media. So I am pretty happy with being able to get from him what is going on. I think these candidates who feel they only have to talk to their targeted voters are making a bad mistake and it will eventually come back to get them.

    I hope if next time he runs and goes to campaign in your area people ask him why he doesn’t come to your area except during elections.

  2. The essence of this article is Mark whining that the tour didn’t walk in front of Mark’s house.

    In the time it took you to write this post, (I assume it took more than 5 minutes, but i could be wrong), you could have gotten off your butt and went to where Hurt actually was visiting.

  3. The essence of Brian’s complaint is ignorance.

    Route 29 is 60 miles from my house, Route 58 even further. As to whether I get off my butt is something Brian wouldn’t know because he doesn’t know what I do out here in the sticks. My activism is there for any of my neighbors to see; Brian must choose not to see or believe anything that he can’t savagely criticize.

    There are 6 or 7 counties at least where Rep. Hurt did not appear, and we as constituents are the worse for it.

    If Mr. Hurt was interested in what his constituents had to say or the questions they have, he would have made himself more accessible to us like previous Congressman Tom Perriello. Instead, he surrounds himself with those who think he is great and have nothing probing or interesting to ask him. (Or he only comes to the local area to attend activities attended by well-heeled supporters, such as the recent LCVA event…perhaps in an attempt to make appearances and garner funds for his campaign).

    In their world, as in Brian’s, belief of up is down or tax cuts create jobs is something they really believe in.

    (In the interest of fairness and the high standard which we hold ourselves to on this blog, I have edited this comment, taking out unfair attacks on the commenter. I apologize to all readers and the commenter for my lapse in judgment.MEB) 1:25PM EDT 9-24-11

  4. Mark says I can’t have a conversation without being “insulting or demeaning” while he spends 8 paragraphs being insulting and demeaning.

    Mark, if you’d like to criticize me, pick things of which you aren’t guilty of yourself.

  5. If Mark had made a call to Congressman Hurt’s office,he would have found out about the RT. 15 tour and been able to see Robert in Buckingham. Tom Perriello never answered questions so what difference did it make if he had meetings ? Tom has returned to D.C. now and seldom visits the district at all. I am waiting to see Mark post that he had had plenty of time to see the Congressman today in Buckingham.

  6. BTW, Mark. Congressman Hurt sends reprentatives out in the district to handle constituent problems something Tom never did. Not everyone can drive to where one of the District offices are when they need help. How many times did Tom’s people come to Buckingham for this ?

  7. Notice was given last night for an appearance in Cumberland County to tour a lumberyard. This is not the kind of meeting I would like to see, where he has 30 minutes or so to both talk with people and tour the plywood.

    We are going to have to agree to disagree here, because it is clear that our opinions are so far apart, any further discussion would be fruitless.

    Once again, thanks for your interest in my article.

  8. Mark, I am glad you admitted you did not call Congressman Hurt’s office to find out when he would be in your area nor did you deny that Perriello did not send people to your county to take care of constituents needs. As a matter of fact, the last set of Perriello town halls were largely scheduled at times that few could attend so he could restrict attendance.

    1. What? The last round of town halls I attended were all at 6 in the evening with packed auditoriums. Of course, I’m in Albemarle Co. so he probably scheduled those meetings so he could land at home that night, but I had no trouble with convenience issues and Perriello stayed until the last question was asked. He also planned 21 different opportunities for his constituents to speak out in a public forum, held one-on-one meetings at those forums, and advertised them in advance so locals could plan.

      I visited Congressman Hurt’s website several times during August to check on the Events calendar so I could have my say, but each time I visited there was nothing listed. No, I didn’t call the office because, silly me, I thought constituent events would be listed on the webpage – I mean, that’s what its there for, right?

  9. Since it is obvious you love to have the last word no matter what someone says to you, I am going to stop responding and telling you I am not having this conversation any more.

    If you are looking for an argument, you are looking in the wrong place. Please have a nice evening, and I’ll see you out there on the trail next year.

  10. Mark, a significant part of the problem is that each House member represents about 500,000 constituents. That is about 10 times too many. We need about 5000 Representatives. The Constitution says, “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand….” If we were at those levels, we would have about 10,000 Representatives.

    There would actually be several advantages to such seemingly ridiculous numbers of Representatives. First, they would be more accessible to their constituents. Second, the cost of running would be much lower. Third, individual Representatives would have less power. Fourth, they could not all fit in the House chamber.

    That last may seems a bit strange to be a good thing, but with today’s technology, there is no reason for them to meet except for special occasions. Votes and meetings could be conducted over the Internet, and our Representatives could remain in their districts while in session.

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