Speech to Staunton City Council

Staunton City Council held a work session on Thursday 4/27 to decide whether to invite Rep. Bob Goodlatte to a public, in-person town hall here in Staunton.

Great news: all but one member agreed to the invitation. Staunton City Council will send a formal request for a town hall here to Rep. Goodlatte. What he chooses to do next is, of course, up to him. While his attitude towards town halls is less than encouraging, it’s important that we keep the pressure on!

If you want to know what to do next, contact Goodlatte and ask him to hold a public, in-person town hall. Also helpful are letters to the editor and opinion pieces in local news. 

The member who recused herself from the invitation, Andrea Oakes, said she didn’t believe it fell within the jurisdiction of a city council to ask this of Goodlatte. NBC-29 has a story and video here.

Staunton City Council invited members of the public to speak. Here is what Allison Profeta, leader of the action group Local and Vocal in Staunton, said, republished here with her permission:

“I want to thank those of you who argued in support of sending Congressman Goodlatte a letter or invitation to hold a town hall meeting anywhere in the 6th district.

It’s never been my intention to be confrontational. I didn’t ask, nor did anyone else who spoke at the last meeting ask, any of you to be confrontational towards Congressman Goodlatte.

On Monday the Congressman was presented with a carefully thought out, considerate, accommodating plan for a town hall meeting that included plans for security, a ticket lottery, handicapped accommodations, as well as a silent way that attendees would be able to express agreement or disagreement so that we wouldn’t inadvertently make him emotional.

I am emotional.

So are a lot of other people. Especially those women who are leading the recent activist groups that have sprung up this year. In Staunton and across Virginia and the entire country. I promise it hasn’t escaped his attention that women are increasingly stepping up as leaders who will no longer remain silent on issues that affect our communities, friends, and families.

Men tend to dismiss women who speak up and refuse to back down as emotional. So it doesn’t shock me at all that he chose to call a female council member prior to tonight’s meeting and specifically use that word to dismiss constituents with whom he refuses to meet.

But what he failed to address is why he hasn’t had a town hall meeting for almost four years. If today’s “emotional” environment makes him feel frightened, what was his excuse prior to this year?

The working poor feel ignored. By him. By many others in government. We have the right to have our voices heard. We are not animals. We are not unruly. We are human beings. Our concerns affect not just us personally, but our communities as well.

Just over 50% of students in the city schools qualify for free or reduced lunches. This isn’t a terribly wealthy city. So I applaud those of you brave enough to speak up and extend a friendly invitation to Congressman Goodlatte to hear how the decisions he makes affect our daily lives.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s