It’s official: Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne was the most accessible House member of the freshman class in 2019.
Axne, elected to represent the 3rd District in 2018, held 57 public town halls in 2019, according to her staff.
An analysis of Congress members’ schedules by Town Hall Project found Axne topped the list among freshmen Democrats and Republicans.
After 57 town halls, visiting every corner of #IA03 and listening to Iowans about what concerns them most, and bringing their voices to Washington — I'm proud to be recognized by @TownHallProject as the most accessible freshman member of Congress in 2019.https://t.co/BxrHZjEHyd https://t.co/ZiuprWoQwX
— Rep. Cindy Axne (@RepCindyAxne) January 14, 2020
“It has been my pleasure this past year to hold these 57 town halls across all 16 counties of Iowa’s Third District and meet with Iowans about what issues are concerning them,” said Axne, Tuesday in a statement. “I’ve visited every corner of this district and listened to Democrats, Republicans and Independents — and it’s allowed me to bring all of their voices to Washington to fight for solutions that are good for Iowa.”
According to Town Hall Project’s “2019 Congressional Accessibility Report,” freshmen House members were responsible for more than a third of the town hall meetings held by members of Congress, despite making up less than 19% of legislators. Every Democratic freshman in the House held at least one town hall in 2019, Town Hall Project found, compared to 58% of Republican freshmen.
“The Democratic freshman class in the House, in particular, pride themselves on being available to their constituents, especially after many of them made lawmaker accessibility a prominent issue in their 2018 challenger campaigns,” Town Hall Project wrote in its January report.
Because Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley visit all 99 counties in the state every year, they also score high on the town hall quotient. Even Republican Congressman Steve King, a former “Missing Member” (a member who did not hold a single town hall in 2017 or 2018), significantly upped his count. This year he held a town hall meeting in every one of his district’s 39 counties.
Axne held the second-most town halls among House and Senate members of both parties, falling only to Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who held 60 town halls in 2019 compared to Axne’s 57.
“The best answers come from the people in the district,” Axne told Starting Line at a December town hall in Guthrie Center. “That’s why it’s so important to come and be out and about and talk with people, to get a tap on what needs to be done to make their lives better.”
Rep. King came in sixth place overall with 40 town halls, and Ernst finished 10th with 33.
By Elizabeth Meyer