Rep. Issa's Constituents Call On Him To Attend Town Hall On Health Care
Editor's note: This story was updated Feb. 20 to add comments from Darrell Issa's office.
Constituents in the 49th Congressional District have invited Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, to a town hall meeting focusing on health care next week.
Protesters have been rallying outside Issa’s Vista office since December but have been unable to meet with him.
Ellen Montanari, an event organizer, said 270 people showed up this week, the largest turnout yet. She said those at the rally include Democrats, Republicans and independents, and their issues are not partisan.
Montanari said they asked for a town hall meeting but the response was that a town hall meeting would cost $50,000 — too much taxpayer money.
Since the coalition of groups has been unable to contact Issa directly, it rented a hall in Vista and crowdsourced money to pay for a full-page advertisement in The San Diego Union-Tribune inviting Issa to attend an "Emergency Town Hall On Health Care" on Feb. 21.
“We have asked, ‘Where does (Issa) stand on this issue? Where does he stand on that? Where did he stand on the Muslim ban?” Montanari said. “His district director keeps saying, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ If you don’t know the answer, how are we supposed to know what our member of Congress is thinking or saying?”
Montanari said Issa’s North County constituents would like to speak with their representative directly.
“Congressman Issa," she said, “It’s people who live in your district who really want to hear from you — what you’re thinking, why you vote the way you do.”
Montanari said the meeting will be peaceful and moderated by a minister from the Universalist church. She said organizers have two schedules planned: one if Issa attends and one if he does not.
Update: Feb. 20
Issa’s office said it is finalizing the congressman's calendar for this week, when Congress is not in session.
Issa spokesman Calvin Moore said the congressman held a telephone town hall meeting at the end of January, “where more than 6,000 constituents had the chance to participate, ask questions, raise concerns and share their ideas with him, speak to him directly.”
“(Issa) doesn’t think that people should have to wait for a town hall in to have their voices heard,” Moore said, “which is why he encourages constructive dialogue, all year long, in through so many different methods — phone, email, surveys, mail, social media and personal meetings.”
Issa appeared with other state and local legislators at an in-person town hall in Oceanside in early October, Moore said. It was to gather input on new legislation to regulate sober living homes. More than 100 people attended.
The coalition hosting Tuesday’s town hall includes Indivisible North San Diego County, Service Employees International Union, California and SEIU Local 221, which represents San Diego County employees in the Department of Health and Human Services. Also, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, the San Diego Labor Council, San Diegans for Health Care Coverage/CCHI and the Sierra Club are among those sponsoring the town hall.
The meeting is planned for 6 p.m. at the Jim Porter Recreation Center, 1200 Vale Terrace, Vista.