‘Sidewalk Sit-In’ outside Rep. Stewart’s office protests online format for town hall event

Posted at 9:27 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 23:27:04-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Republican town halls have been met with protests nationwide, and on Wednesday night Utah Congressman Chris Stewart got the same treatment in a different fashion.

"We're his constituents, things on the ground have changed since the election, people are newly activated and we need to see him and talk to him face-to-face in person," said JoAnne Slotnik, one of about 40 protesters outside Chris Stewart's Salt Lake City office.

The group gathered to protest the fact that the town hall was being held online and on the phone.

"I think it's kind of a way to insulate yourself from the people," said Patrick Young of the online format.

Congressman Stewart wrote in a statement:

"When the Congressional schedule requires me to be in Washington, D.C. – like it does today – I use telephone townhalls as an additional tool to maintain a dialogue with my constituents."

During the Tele-town hall, the congressman explained his commitments as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee put a strain on his time during the legislative break.

"Some of you know, not many of you, last week when we were out of session, I was overseas: I was in Egypt and Jordan and Iraq," Stewart said.

At any kind of town hall, it can be hard to make your voice heard. Each protester outside his office on Wednesday night brought their own message.

"I would like him to be far more assertive into looking at the effect of the Russian hacking on our election," said JoAnne Slotnik.

"The only thing between us and the administration, if you will, is our representative," Martha Paige said.

Unsatisfied with only a phone call or internet connection for their town hall with Congressman Stewart, the protesters will get another chance to have their voices heard. Congressman Stewart has an in-person town hall scheduled in Salt Lake City on March 24. The location and time of that town hall is still to be determined, Stewart's office said.