Town halls should be a bit rowdy, but not rude

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 1, 2014 

Being the only known Democrat at Rep. Mark Sanford's town hall meeting March 20, a recent letter writer must have been referring to me, accusing me of being rude and interrupting Sanford at the meeting.

Such was not the case. I either elaborated or provided a different point of view to Sanford's opinion and that of my Republican neighbors. Not interrupting, but raising my hand, I addressed President Obama's use of executive orders, legislators claiming not having time to read a bill, voter fraud, and that conservatives own the media, not liberals.

The media comment was met by those assembled with uncontrolled shoutdown. Rude? Of course not. It was a gut reaction, and I did not take offense at the attendees shoutout. Also, since Sanford was not aware of new health insurance rates to be instituted due to our area becoming designated urban instead of rural, he was happy to hear that. I learned that at a town hall meeting held by Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.

Disagreeing with the congressman was not rude. The purpose of a town hall meeting is for the mutual exchange of ideas. As a matter of fact, Sanford mailed me a hand-written note, expressing pleasure at my attendance and saying he "always appreciates my perspective."

It is a shame I have to spend time explaining what actually happened. I originally intended to write a fact-based letter on who owns the media. Now, I have to wait to comply with newspaper rules of one letter every 30 days.

Paul Russo


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