U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, pledged Friday to hold a public town hall meeting in his district in the near future.
During a tour Friday of Columbia Industries in Kennewick, Newhouse told the Herald that he’s heard the message loud and clear that constituents want face-to-face contact.
But he said he will not be at a town hall session scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
The event was organized by Katie Banks, a faculty member at Washington State University Tri-Cities; Martin McBriarty, who is not associated with the university; and the 4th Congressional District chapter of Indivisible, a national group that has organized anti-Trump protests across the country.
It is not connected to Associated Students WSU or the Coug Votes project.
I wish I could be there. I definitely want to hear from people.
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside
Newhouse told the Herald that he only learned of the event Thursday, the same day protesters gathered at his Yakima office to demand an in-person meeting. The group disbanded when it learned he was in Olympia to discuss federal policy changes with state lawmakers.
Organizers of the Saturday event say panelists will answer questions based on Newhouse’s public statements if he is not officially represented.
Newhouse said he understands people have “legitimate concerns” about the new administration and there is a lot of anxiety about new policy directions.
“I wish I could be there,” he said, saying he has a conflict. “I definitely want to hear from people.”
Newhouse said he is holding a telephone town hall next week and will schedule an in-person visit as soon as his travel schedule permits, likely over a weekend when he can travel home from Washington, D.C.
Columbia Industries invited Newhouse to visit on Friday to learn more about its programs for clients with disabilities and about the pressure the nonprofit is under because of changes to minimum wage laws and federal benefits rules.