Fifty protesters Tuesday called on Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) to hold a town hall meeting so they can voice concerns about President Donald Trump’s nascent presidency.
Protesters holding signs that said “Missing Congressman!” and “Where is Lee Zeldin?” chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” as they marched a third of a mile from the Suffolk County Courthouse to Zeldin’s office off Main Street in Riverhead.
“We want a town hall. He refuses to meet with us,” said Eileen Duffy of Quogue, who formed the group Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin after the presidential election.
The group also has held rallies to get Zeldin’s position on the Affordable Care Act and to oppose the travel ban on visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries since Trump’s inauguration, but said they have yet to meet with Zeldin.
Zeldin’s district director, Mark Woolley, met demonstrators in the building’s stairwell, telling them they needed an appointment and asking them to leave.
Zeldin spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena said office hours now are by appointment only, and said the change was due to “new disruption tactics of these liberal obstructionists locally and nationally.”
Last week, Zeldin canceled a planned meeting in April at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. DiSiena blamed the cancellation on protesters.
“Unfortunately, liberal obstructionists locally and around the country have committed themselves to creating mass disruptions at public events for their own political theater,” she said in a statement. “That is neither effective, productive or constructive.”
She said Zeldin in his first term held public forums and had mobile office hours that allowed him to “reach the maximum amount of constituents who are interested in constructive dialogue.”
Zeldin was not available for comment.
DiSiena pointed to a Jan. 28 Rotary Club event in East Patchogue where Zeldin was being honored as man of the year. More than 100 protesters showed up, asking to meet with Zeldin.
DiSiena said protesters “were banging on car doors, jumping in front of cars, shining lights into cars and yelling at attendees to harass them.” Organizers of that protest said protesters were civil, and provided video of peaceful demonstrators.
Robin Kaye Goodman, 37, of Orient, a member of Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin, said calling members “liberal obstructionists” was cover for Zeldin’s desire to avoid tough questions.
“We’re his constituents and the congressman works for all members of CD01, not just those who agree with him,” she said, referring to the congressional district.
DiSiena said Tuesday the congressman is planning to hold telephone town halls and mobile office hours.
On Tuesday, the demonstrators chanted, “We’re friendly and polite. Hear our call, we want a town hall.”
“I don’t feel Congressman Zeldin represents what I stand for,” said John Neely, 71, of Westhampton Beach, pointing to the repeal of regulations affecting financial advisers and environmental issues.
Sherry Thrilby, 66, of Southold, said she wanted Zeldin to be a check on Trump’s presidency.
“We have an opinion, he should listen to us,” she said.