Town hall meetings are a way for politicians to meet with their constituents, either to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss specific upcoming legislation or regulation.
Despite their name, town hall meetings need not take place in a town hall. They are commonly held in a range of venues, including schools, libraries, municipal buildings, and churches. A number of officials have also experimented with digital formats for town halls.
Historically, no specific rules or guidelines have defined a town hall meeting. Any event that allows constituent participation with a politician may be called a town hall, including gatherings in person, group phone calls, or events on Internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
What defines our version of Town Halls?
- Intent: The Town Halls are all about citizen/candidate listening and learning, ensuring direct cross-partisan access by citizens to candidates and lawmakers, and making government work for the benefit of our communities. They are not adversarial. They are not about one candidate or party trying to win an election or stay in office. In short, they are about public service.
- Format design: They are structured and moderated by a non-partisan community leader able to ensure the dialogue is civil, respectful, and responsive to citizen concerns.
- Target audience: The Town Halls will be well advertised and easily accessible to ensure a representative mix of partisans and independents and of all demographic segments. They will be live streamed and should be posted on candidate/lawmaker web sites.
Attendees use town halls to voice their opinions and question elected officials, political candidates, and public figures. In contrast to town meetings, a type of direct democratic rule that originated in colonial New England attendees do not vote on issues during town hall meetings.