Voters having trouble getting access to representatives

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Voters were outside of Rep. David Schweikert's office, hoping for a town hall. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Voters were outside of Rep. David Schweikert's office, hoping for a town hall. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The women put Post-It Notes on Schweikert's windows with questions they'd like to ask in person. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The women put Post-It Notes on Schweikert's windows with questions they'd like to ask in person. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Rep. Raul Grijalva held a Q & A in the west Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rep. Raul Grijalva held a Q & A in the west Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Around 20 people gathered around a table in Avondale on Wednesday, to ask Congressman Raul Grijalva, whose district stretches from Yuma to the far West Valley, questions about the Trump administration, immigration policy and Obamacare.

It was the only free, public event hosted by any member of Congress in the Phoenix area during the congressional recess this week.

Groups of voters have been showing up at offices, asking for town halls, but after a series of rowdy events in other states, Arizona's Congressional Delegation seems to be shying away from open forums.

"Whether people are angry or supportive, they want a place to let that go. They don't want their congressman to be a potted plant," Grijalva said.

"It might be uncomfortable and seem unseemly, but you have to go answer the questions," he added, noting that he hosted several rowdy town halls when the Affordable Care Act was moving through Congress.

"We have been polite and kind, and it's time for Congressman David Schweikert to meet with us and listen to our concerns," voter Pinny Sheoran said, outside of Schweikert's Scottsdale office.

She and a growing group of other voters have been showing up at the office, trying to convince the staff to host a town hall.

[SPECIAL SECTION: AZ politics]

Schweikert's staff says 30,000 people listened to a tele-town hall he hosted on Monday. The congressman now plans to hold one-on-one coffee appointments with other voters.

"The lack of access is a really big issue. We're taking off work to come here, trying to engage with the congressman, and he's not here for us," Susan Connell said.

Schweikert is not alone in avoiding public forums.

Sen. John McCain spent the recess in Syria and Germany.

Sen. Jeff Flake was in Arizona, but his staff says he has no plans to hold a town hall.

[READ MORE: Protesters take demands for town hall meeting to Sen. Flake's home]

Rep. Paul Gosar canceled a town hall, and instead turned it into a tele-town hall, but promised future forums.

East Valley Congressman Andy Biggs' staff says he hosted a tele-town hall for 5,400 constituents but has not planned an in-person event.

[READ MORE: Protesters demand Rep. Biggs town hall]

"Congressman Biggs has embraced the opportunity to meet with his constituents whenever possible. In this spirit of engagement, Congressman Biggs welcomes the chance to continue communicating and meeting with constituents and looks forward to a respectful dialogue with everyone involved," staffer Daniel Stefansky said in a statement on Wednesday.

Representative Trent Franks' office said he will "not be intimidated by mindless tactics," referring to rowdy town halls elsewhere.

Franks' staff says he has planned tele-town halls and small roundtable events and other meetings for voters "who want to engage in a productive conversation."

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema's calendar says she was hosting a fundraiser Wednesday evening in Phoenix.

"We hold a 'Kyrsten in Your Community' constituent event every month," Sinema staffer Macey Matthews said, noting the last one February 4th in the Sunnyslope neighborhood.

Sinema has not scheduled a public event for March yet.
 

Representative Ruben Gallego's staff did not return a message.

Representative Tom O'Halleran, who represents Arizona's vast District 1, will host a town hall at the Lakeside Town Hall, on Saturday afternoon.

Representative Martha McSally will hold a town hall in Sahuarita on Thursday afternoon, which is open to the public.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Jared DillinghamJared anchors the weekend newscasts at 5, 6, 9 and 10pm on both 3TV and CBS5. He also reports during the week for both stations.

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