Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Creates Guidelines for Town Hall Meetings

Jul 12, 2018

As the summer campaign season heats up for the November elections, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released town hall meeting guidelines in effort to encourage open and vigorous dialogue between the public and policy makers.

When the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon met with constituents during town hall meetings, Simon Institute Director John Shaw says he would sit at a table in front of the public with a notepad.

However, that was about 21 years ago and today we live in a polarized political world.

Shaw says such polarization has made many town meetings opportunities for right and left activist groups to create disruption.

Instead of meeting face-to-face with their constituents, Shaw says his research shows policymakers having virtual town hall meetings through the phone or internet.

In response to his research, Shaw said he and others at the Simon Institute decided to create guidelines that could provide a road map of how to have productive in-person town hall meetings.

Shaw says these guidelines are not made to take out the passion of politics but rather lay the foundation for the polarized political parties to find common ground and maintain a vital part of the country's democracy.