Steve Knight’s third try at a town hall didn’t fly
Rep. Steve Knight | AP

SANTA CLARITA, Calif.—From the moment it began, Republican Representative Steve Knight’s latest effort to have an “orderly” town hall seem destined to failure, especially when “orderly” is understood to mean stifled. Without a doubt, the 25th Congressional District’s third town hall, held Thurs., June 1, in Santa Clarita, sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight, was once again a raucous session. The city’s activists pointed to Rep. Knight’s planning, responses and behavior at the Town Hall that may have been in large part responsible.

The Town Hall once again began at 4:00 pm, an hour guaranteed to preclude the attendance of the average working- and middle-class resident regardless of where it was held. Yet well over 350 attendees, roughly twice the size of previous town hall meetings held by Knight, turned out.  Carefully screened prior to admission, residents attending the town hall were also monitored by nine uniformed and plain clothes Los Angeles County officers, while another six were seen inside the auditorium. It was never clear, however, whether the impressive display of sheriff’s deputies were there to protect Rep. Knight, a former peace officer, or to surveil the residents.

Questions presented by residents were many and varied, but it was clear that the Affordable Care Act which Knight voted to repeal, was on people’s minds—the consequences of the Trump-inspired repeal on the average resident, and their anger at Knight’s evasive responses. In fact, the questions began with one man providing a description of the effects of Knight’s votes on his family, and ended with his cry, “I’m so angry at you.”

Other issues included Republican President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, his failure to support Planned Parenthood, and Trump’s betrayal of cyber security, using FCC privacy rights rules to allow search engines such as Google to sell user information. Also noteworthy was Knight’s never addressing the issue of immigrant rights and ICE’s deportations that are up 150 percent.

Nothing was so galling to the audience as Knight’s efforts to avoid responding to the audience’s questions, as well as his arrogance in patronizing the audience. “Don’t talk down to him,” said one audience member in defense of a young questioner.

The town hall meeting ended much as it began, with one senior Santa Clarita activist decrying the “collapse of democracy” and labeling Pres. Trump “a crook”—a charge that brought the audience to a resounding applause.

Another town hall is currently being planned for later this month since, as one activist put it, “It looks as if the third try didn’t fly.” That town hall meeting is scheduled to take place in the east end of the congressional district later this month. Once again, Santa Clarita residents are expected to make their presence known.


Jim Soliz
Jim Soliz

Jim Soliz writes from Santa Clarita, California