Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, speaks at a Republican fundraiser last month in Waco.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson, file

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, will field phone calls and written questions from his McLennan County constituents next week in the place of town hall meetings.

The four-term congressman held two Waco town hall meetings in 2016. This year, Flores has shifted to hosting sessions with residents of District 17 through conference calls and Facebook livestreams.

Residents of McLennan, Falls, Freestone, Leon, Limestone, Milam and Robertson counties can access the first event of this round at 6:55 p.m. Nov. 28.

Residents of Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Lee and Travis counties will have a similar opportunity Nov. 30.

Flores, who will be in Washington, D.C., during the events, said the phone and video format has improved accessibility and engagement.

“That kind of follows what you see in society today,” Flores said.

The same way people can shop online from home, they can take care of their political engagement from home, he said.

Flores estimated his four events in the spring and summer made about 25,000 connections. He also said 75 percent of participants in a July conference call said they prefer the electronic format.

Flores said he likes town hall meetings facing constituents, but past turnout has been poor.

“We just weren’t having many people, and it takes a lot of effort to put one together in terms of making sure you can get a venue, getting it at the right price because these are taxpayer-funded exercises, and also getting security there,” Flores said.

Flores expects the events to focus on tax reform, health care, immigration, net neutrality and the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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

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