We’ve seen stories of late of Congress people on both sides of the aisle afraid to hold town hall style forums back home in their districts with their constituents. Here in Maine it’s rare to see open access to our congressional delegation. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen one of our congressional members in the House or Senate, actually holding an open, free, public meeting.
I’m a firm believer in the idea of having an accountable government. Having a direct line of communication between constituents and the elected officials they are supposed to represent. I’m not talking about going through a staff member, but being able to go straight to the office holder. For me, it allows me to gauge what is important to the community and what I need to be fighting for at the Statehouse.
Since many folks can’t make it up to the Statehouse, having a platform for folks to voice their concerns and ask questions is pivotal to having a political system and a government that is, of the people, by the people, and for the people.
In the age of social media, connecting has never been easier, but nothing replaces face to face interaction. Which is why earlier this year from January through April, I held legislative office hours in every corner of our Senate district. Now I’m planning a town hall style meeting in a similar fashion for every community I represent throughout November. From the shores of Old Orchard Beach and the historic downtown of Saco to the rolling hills of Hollis and the farms in Limington.
At each meeting, I’ll give a rundown of the highlights from this past legislative session and a recap of what just happened with the special session we got called in for. We will also go around the room for a question and answer session for any topics folks would like to talk about or delve into. I will also give out copies of my official legislative newsletter.
Everyone is welcome, of all political affiliations, so if you can’t make your particular town hall meeting feel free to bounce over a town line and attend another one. I tried to vary the days of the week and times to maximize attendance.
Here is the following schedule: Saco’s will be 6 to 8 p.m. held Wednesday, Nov. 1 at University College Saco next to Shaw’s. Old Orchard Beach’s will be 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 4 at Libby Memorial Library. Hollis and Buxton will be 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Salmon Falls Library. Limington will be 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 at the Old Town Hall.
I hope to see many of you there even just to say hello and to get a quick update. It’s so important we have a participatory political system and it starts with each of us contributing to the ideas and the discussion.
Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a marketing & public relations firm, works as the marketing coordinator of Saco Sport & Fitness, and is the president/ CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Sign up for legislative updates at www.justinchenette.com or www.Facebook.com/ JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco