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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Over 4,400 people participate in Bright telephone town hall

U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Montgomery, said over 4,400 constituents in his congressional district participated in a telephone town hall Wednesday evening, which focused largely in health care. The call was Bright's sixth town hall. He fielded calls from his Montgomery office.
Calls went out to about 40,000 households in the district and included some people who had requested to participate.
Most people asked about health care, although some also asked about czars in Washington, the national debt, small businesses and other issues.
"I place a very high priority on listening to and communicating with my constituents,” Bright said in a statement. "I have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from our previous telephone town halls because they are an effective way for me to communicate with so many folks in my district and to better understand their concerns and views."
Some people have bashed Bright for using the telephone town hall instead of hosting a live in-person town hall. They said he has refused, that they want to hear specifics on what he does and does not support, that there are no follow-ups in the telephone format and that his staff selects the questions they will take.
Lewis Lowe, communications director for Bright, has said the congressman can reach more people through the telephone and the format benefits citizens because they do not have to leave their own home.
Bright has answered questions about health care at live events. Last Wednesday, he took questions from Realtors about health care and he also talked to people who stopped at his Congress on Your Corner event.
Twenty-three people asked questions during the telephone town hall and 103 left voice messages for Bright and his staff, according to a release from his office.
Bright has said he opposes all five of the current health care plans being considered by Congress. He said he opposes a public option and wants a more market-drive plan that does not compete with private enterprise.
"It is clear from this call, and from my many conversations with citizens across the 2nd District that they are also opposed to the health care proposal," he said. "I will take those concerns back to Washington in September."
The telephone town hall lasted about 80 minutes.
Bright's staff conducted a poll during the phone call in which people could punch a number that corresponded with their response. About 77 percent of people on the line said they were opposed to the health care plans.
"That is a pretty loud voice as far as I am concerned," he responded.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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