Some East Ohio residents may get a call from U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson at about 6:30 p.m. today, while others wish they could talk to him in person.
Wilson's office plans to send out calls to 40,000 homes in the Ohio's 6th Congressional District tonight to seek their participation in a telephone town hall meeting, set for 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Constituents wishing to call in themselves may join the forum by calling toll-free 877-229-8493, and the PIN number for the call is 13016.
"I'm proud to act on behalf of the 12 counties that make up Ohio's Sixth District and I'm eager to hear from all the residents I represent," Wilson, D-Ohio, said in a news release. "This technology allows me to hear from so many people at once and that's exciting."
Wilson has presided over similar telephone town hall meetings in the past, but many constituents have requested an in-person town hall meeting in the district.
Wilson's telephone town hall meetings have been successful, said Hillary Viers, spokeswoman for Wilson.
She said in, Wilson conducted a telephone town hall in which 3,674 residents participated, and in a second one last November attracted 5,422 on the phone lines.
"In a district like Rep. Wilson's that has no central media market nor city center, this is the most efficient and most cost effective way to reach the maximum number of people," Viers said. "Rep. Wilson expects to take many questions about the economy and creating jobs. He believes it is always an important time to reach out to constituents.
"Rep. Wilson wants to hear what they think and often gets great ideas from such roundtables and meetings. For example, he recently introduced a bill based on an idea that came out of a roundtable meeting with small business owners and community bankers."
She did not speculate whether Wilson would be scheduling an in-person town hall anytime soon. "Right now we're focused on tomorrow's telephone town hall," Viers said.
Members of the local "We The People - Ohio Valley" want an in-person town hall from Wilson, and have been especially critical of his telephone town halls.
"We have talked with him about his technique holding these so-called telephone town hall meetings," said John Price, spokesman for We the People - Ohio Valley. "The questions are pre-screened. ... The conversation is controlled."
Robert Connors of St. Clairsville, also with We the People - Ohio Valley, said he and others in the group tune in to the telephone town halls, "but we are never able to get a question in."
"I don't think that is actually talking with people in a town hall forum," he said. "Everyone can speak at a town hall - and you can ask the one holding it to clarify a question, or to hold follow-up questions. In these telephone town halls, it's between Wilson and the one speaking on the phone."
Connors said the group wants to hold Wilson and other politicians accountable for their voting records, and they will continue to seek an in-person town hall meeting with him.