EO file photo by E.J. Harris

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden will hold a series of town hall meetings in 16 counties this month, including Umatilla and Morrow counties.

The Republican congressman, who won re-election in November to his 11th term in a competitive race against challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, said in a press release that he is eager to hear directly from constituents of Oregon’s 2nd District.

“I look forward to getting together with people on the ground and hearing your concerns and ideas and suggestions about this new session of Congress, and giving you an update on the things we’ve accomplished and what we want to work on going forward,” he said in the prepared statement.

McLeod-Skinner and her supporters were critical of Walden’s lack of town halls in the years leading up to the midterm. A “Where’s Walden” caravan was created by the activist group Indivisible that traveled around the district counting the number of days since he’d hosted a public event.

During his last in-person town halls in the spring of 2017, Walden faced hostility because of Republican attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act. He attributed it to liberal activists who had “weaponized” the events.

Walden defended his record in the lead-up to the campaign, pointing to telephone town halls that drew thousands of callers and his meetings with smaller forums and focus groups.

The release announcing January’s meetings stated that the congressman has held 148 town hall meetings since 2012.

Walden began his term on Thursday, the second day of the Legislative session, by breaking ranks with the Republican Party and backing a Democratic bill that would end the government shutdown. He voted against another Democratic bill which would fund the Department of Homeland Security, but would not provide money for a border wall.

Both bills passed in the House, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring the bills to the Senate because President Donald Trump won’t sign them.

Walden said in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting that he didn’t think employees of national parks and forests should be caught up in a fight about border security.

Walden will be at the Pendleton Convention Center on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 a.m., and at the SAGE Center Theater in Boardman the same day, at noon.

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