WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Rod Blum doesn’t know what to expect at a series of town hall meetings across Iowa’s 1st District next week.
The reports he’s heard from U.S. House colleagues are “all over the place from raucous, contentious, people screaming and yelling, and trying to yell over each other,” Blum said Wednesday. “Others said people were very respectful.”
He’s hoping “Iowa nice” prevails at the meetings scheduled in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Marshalltown.
“It’s Iowa,” Blum said after stepping out of committee meeting in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. “And we’re going to have Iowans there. I think in Iowa we respect each other’s opinions, at least enough to listen to each other. I expect people to be respectful, but who knows?”
In an attempt to prevent his town hall meetings from falling into the “raucous, contentious” category, Blum said he is limiting participation to residents of the 20-county northeast Iowa congressional district. He’s been critical of activists who “show up and yell” at their congressional representatives.
“You don’t get a lot accomplished yelling at each other,” Blum said.
He’s not concerned about the optics of limiting participation to district residents.
“I’m not a senator. I don’t represent the whole state. I represent the 1st District,” Blum said. “I don’t want to spend time conversing with folks who are from Des Moines, for example. Or from out of state, that are from Chicago. This has happened in other town halls. I’ve talked to my colleagues on the House floor. People have come in from out of state.
“I want these people to be from my district,” he said. “That way we can get a chance to Q-and-A each other.”
Checking IDs probably won’t keep out all of the people who want to yell at Blum. Activists opposed to the second-term Republican have been demanding Blum conduct town hall meetings since early this year. He cited scheduling conflicts for not having meetings sooner.
According to his announcement, the meetings are open to 1st District residents who RSVP and attendees must provide a valid ID verifying they live in the district. No backpacks, signs, banners or artificial noisemakers will be allowed.
To register, go to blum.house.gov/townhall, or call (202) 225-2911.
The town hall schedule is as follows:
l 7 p.m. Monday at Dubuque Senior High School’s Nora Gym, 1800 Clarke Drive.
l 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kirkwood Community College Johnson Hall Gym, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids.
l 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, at Cedar Falls High School gym, 1015 Division St.
l Noon Thursday, May 11, at Marshalltown Community College Babe Harder Gym, 3700 S. Center St.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for the evening events and 11 a.m. for the afternoon event.
Blum hopes people come ready to civilly discuss the issues that are important to them.
“If half the time is just yelling, then we’re not accomplishing too much,” he said. “That just cuts down the amount of time I can listen to people, what their thoughts are, and I can give them what my thoughts are.”
l Comments (319) 398-8375; James.Lynch@TheGazette.com