PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They call it Tuesdays with Toomey, a march on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s Station Square office every Tuesday to call for a public town hall meeting.
So far that hasn’t happened.
But on Thursday local organizers of Tuesdays with Toomey were invited to meet with the senator privately at the Federal Court House.
“We’re going to ask him to please hold town hall meetings, not just here in Pittsburgh but across Pennsylvania because a lot of people want to talk to him,” Jill Helbling of Franklin Park told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Before the meeting, they shared a petition they planned to give the senator.
“This is a petition asking Senator Toomey to hold a real in person town hall with his real Pennsylvania constituents, and it is signed by 1,711 people. It was signed by that many people just overnight,” said Helbling.
Inside the court house, they met with Toomey for an hour and when they emerged said Toomey was courteous but non-committal about town halls.
“Senator Toomey was engaged and paying attention,” said Tracy Baton of the Hill District.
“He paid attention to each of our questions, but I’m not sure he’s fully engaged with the passion out there in the electorate that really wants to speak to him.”
The group spoke to the senator about many issues, and they said he shouldn’t be afraid to go public.
“It was very helpful for me to have a conversation with him, and I think if people saw more of him it would be helpful,” said Brandi Bentrim of Franklin Park.
And they said meeting with them was no substitute for town hall meetings.
“It would behoove the senator to get in front of as many Pennsylvanians as he possibly can all across the state, not just the six of us here in Pittsburgh,” said Nat Yap of Shadyside.
So until he commits to a town hall, Tuesdays with Toomey will continue.
“We will keep on asking, and that’s what the purpose of the Tuesdays with Toomey is,” noted Patrice Tomcik of Gibsonia.
Members of the Sierra Club, which is openly against the Trump Administration, held a protest in Downtown Pittsburgh Thursday night.
They projected a giant “missing person” flyer featuring Sen. Pat Toomey onto the side of a building.
The group is upset with the senator for voting to confirm Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
They say Pruitt has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry and other major polluters.
Following the meeting, Sen. Toomey issued the following statement:
“I recently reached out to the leaders of Pittsburgh’s “Tuesdays with Toomey” group for the purposes of a meeting this afternoon. This is the second meeting of this nature I have hosted this week, with the other coming in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
“The conversation, while serious in nature, was civil and provided me with the opportunity to listen to their concerns regarding federal policy and other important issues. Topics of discussion included, but were not limited to, LGBTQ rights, health care, hydraulic fracturing, and nation security.
“While our policy perspectives differ on some of these issues, I found the meeting to be constructive. I thank the leaders of Pittsburgh’s “Tuesdays with Toomey” group for both their time and candor and look forward to additional meetings of this nature across Pennsylvania soon.”