Gardner to Host Town Halls in Markey's Absence

August 12, 2009

State Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, still has a long way to go before possibly facing Congresswoman Betsy Markey, D-Fort Collins, at the ballot box next year. But that’s not stopping him walking the congressional walk.

Markey has been reluctant to hold open town hall meetings with her constituents during the August recess. Gardner, one of two Republicans currently vying to replace her, is stepping up to the plate and will hold his own, including one in Markey’s home town.

Gardner held his first “town hall” meeting with constituents in the 4th congressional district last night by phone. He will host the second August 19 at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. That’s a long way from Gardner’s state House district on the eastern plains, but campaign spokesman Mike Ciletti says the town halls are Gardner’s way of “filling the leadership void created by Congresswoman Markey’s avoidance of her constituents.”

“That being said she is welcome to join us on the 19th if she is back from her trip overseas,” he added.

While Markey is currently on a congressional fact-finding trip to Israel, her staff is talking up potential “Congress on Your Corner” sessions during which constituents are invited to meet her for one-on-one discussions at a coffee shop or restaurant. Similar gatherings held by fellow Democratic U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter in Brighton and Jared Polis in Boulder have turned into free-for-alls, their staffs feigning surprise when turnout swells. When constituents have asked Markey’s office about more structured meetings, her staff has cited security concerns for the inaction thus far.

Bob Moore, editor of the Fort Collins Coloradoan, sent updates of Gardner’s tele-town hall via Twitter, the social networking site that allows users to post brief status updates. According to Moore, Gardner didn’t use last night’s town hall to criticize Markey directly. Instead he used the opportunity to address the massive health care reform bill before Congress, the “cap and trade” energy tax and reintroduction of the “fairness doctrine,” which would effectively cripple conservative talk radio. Gardner also directed people to a petition for responsible health care reform linked on his campaign Web site.
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