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Oaks: ‘Town Hall Meetings Successful’

After his telephone town hall event March 6, which followed six face-to-face town hall meetings the previous week, Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R, C-Macedon) said he was pleased with the response from constituents and the diversity of topics discussed.

On Feb. 23 and 25, the assemblyman met personally with constituents at regional meetings in Sterling, Hannibal, Mentz, Galen, Arcadia and Williamson in the 128th Assembly District.

After a brief  presentation on Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012-13 state budget, conversation touched on the budget, recycling, highway funds, mandate reform, school spending, agriculture, funding for outside agencies, the state’s business climate and a number of local issues.

The telephone town hall also went well, Assemblyman Oaks said. The average listener participated for 17 minutes. A total of 2,654 listened in for all or part of the meeting. The telephone town hall lasted an hour, giving the opportunity for approximately 20 questions from people on the call. At one point, there were 49 people waiting to ask a question of the assemblyman. Many constituents, who did not get to ask their questions directly due to time constraints, accepted his invitation to call his office in the days that followed to voice their opinions and concerns.

Residents of the district said they appreciated the Assemblyman’s willingness to host the telephone town hall, enjoyed listening in and hoped he would host similar calls in the future.

Topics discussed throughout the phone call included the state budget, new regulations for the level of Lake Ontario, outdoor wood burners, hydrofracking, wind energy, school funding formulas, attracting new businesses to expand employment opportunities and a number of pressing local issues.

Assemblyman Oaks did a poll of his own and asked participants their views on a series of questions. Constituents used the key pads on their phones to respond.

Do you support expanding casino gambling in New York State? Support 33% Oppose 52 %, Undecided 16%
Do you support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 even if it causes some small businesses to cut jobs? Support 31% Oppose 50% Undecided 19 %
Do you support hydrofracking for natural gas in New York State? Support 36 % Oppose 35 % Undecided 29 %

“I think the telephone town hall is a great method to connect with constituents,” said Assemblyman Oaks. “It is one more way to gain input from the people I represent.”

The telephone town hall format has been growing in popularity in recent years because it provides legislators the ability to reach far more constituents than traditional town halls.

“The capability to connect with a large number of people on a single call to discuss important issues takes advantage of available technology to reach people who may not typically attend other types of meetings. I want to thank all of my constituents who either participated or listened in on my Tele-Town Hall. I hope to do it again,” concluded Assemblyman Oaks.