Bill Flores

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, will hold call-in town hall meetings this month instead of in-person meetings. He has held both types of meetings in recent years, and participation has been much higher in the call-in meetings.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, will not hold in-person town hall meetings this month, instead opting for two telephone town hall meetings broadcast on Facebook Live and a call-in radio event.

Flores said he hopes the call-in formats will be more accessible and convenient and reach more constituents than in-person events would.

“I’ve never been scared to meet with any constituent,” Flores said. “I have several Waco days each month, and every time we’re there we try to meet with constituents, so we’ve been fairly accessible to everybody. Just when it comes to town halls, it’s more efficient for constituents and more convenient for our constituents to use a tele-town hall.”

Constituents in McLennan, Falls, Freestone, Leon, Limestone, Milam and Robertson counties can ask Flores questions from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 19. Constituents in Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Lee and Travis counties will have a town hall April 18.

Participants will ask questions through a caller queue or on a Facebook Live feed, which also will broadcast the events, according to Flores’ office.

The radio town hall meeting will April 20 and based out of Bryan.

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Flores, who held a town hall meeting at University High School a year ago, received more than 61 percent of the vote in his November bid to serve a fourth, two-year term. He hosted another in August at Texas State Technical College.

About 35 people attended the April meeting, and about 75 attended in August.

Flores said 2,842 participated in an April 2015 telephone town hall meeting, and 2,346 participated in that format last year.

Republican members of Congress have faced angry crowds at town hall meetings since the election of President Donald Trump. In recent months, Flores has said he would host town hall meetings in mid-April.

Mary Duty, chairperson of the McLennan County Democratic Party, said she and others are requesting a face-to-face meeting with Flores.

“I’m concerned about the fact that he doesn’t want to face his constituents, the people that he works for,” Duty said. “I’m not mean. I just want to know what’s going on.”

She said she thinks Flores will be able to screen questions and control the dialogue in the call-in format.

Flores has said some town hall meetings across the country have been unruly.

“It’s unfortunate,” he told the Tribune-Herald last month. “If you really want to have engagement with an elected official, you have to have a rational dialogue. You can’t have a dialogue when you’re screaming your lungs out and carrying a sign. That’s not dialogue. There’s no value to be added in having that kind of a disruptive event.”

On Tuesday, Flores said he worries about the security of constituents at such events.

“I have seen the videos of some (town hall meetings) that have gotten out of hand, with folks of different ideologies getting in fights with each other and getting crosswise with each other, so at tele-town halls we can avoid that.”

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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