U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick held his first in-person town hall in Bucks County Tuesday evening, urging more civil public discourse. About 120 area residents were selected to attend the meeting with the first-term Republican through a lottery.
During the 75-minute question and answer session, constituents discussed a wide range of issues including the environment, infrastructure, the opioid crisis, foreign affairs, national security, and President Trump.
Fitzpatrick was frequently met with applause by the largely respectful crowd. However, when asked if he felt President Trump was fit to serve, many people were not satisfied with his response.
“We have a big agenda that we’re trying to get through. It’s been very challenging to say the least, cause I can tell you I didn’t run for Congress to be responding to tweets every day,” said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said he supports or opposes President Trump on an issue-by-issue basis. For example, he said he criticized the president when he used provocative language to criticize the leader of North Korea.
Stephen Perloff from Langhorne was happy Fitzpatrick discussed a lot of important issues during the meeting, but he was disappointed the congressman failed to take a strong stand on the president.
“He was so straightforward on so many issues, to dodge the question about Trump’s fitness for office was slightly disingenuous,” said Perloff.
The moderator for the evening was Bill Pezza, a Bucks County Community College professor. Pezza read questions submitted by the audience members. After Fitzpatrick responded to the initial question, the person who submitted it had an opportunity to ask a follow-up.
One of the Bucks County residents lucky enough to win entry into Tuesday’s meeting was Judi Reiss, a Lower Makefield Township Supervisor who is running for Bucks County Prothonotary. She says she knows meetings like this can be difficult but she urged Fitzpatrick to hold more in the future.
“I would ask you to please commit; I think this has been helpful; to commit to having regular open town hall meetings,” said Reiss.
Prior to the congressman’s town hall meeting a group of protesters made up of members of Fridays with(out) Fitzpatrick and Lower Bucks Indivisible gathered outside of the Bensalem Township Municipal Building, where the event was held, to call on Fitzpatrick to combat climate change, protect access to affordable quality health care and stand up for immigrants.
Fitzpatrick said he believes it is important that he represents both those who voted for him and those who did not. He has plans to hold more events in the future. Previously, he had held a series of telephone town halls, just as his brother, former U.S. Rep Mike Fitzpatrick often did.
“I’m always interested in hearing their feedback and the follow-up,” said Fitzpatrick. That’s what’s always interesting to me because I’m in this business to learn as well as share my views on what I think the best way to go forward is.”