It’s a tale of two cities.
Residents of Lake Forest cheered on Tuesday, March 7 as their city council members promised to put pressure on Congresswoman Mimi Walters to hold a town hall meeting.
Meanwhile, residents in Mission Viejo have been met with nothing but silence since they similarly implored their councilmembers to do the same a week before.
Lake Forest Councilmember Dr. Jim Gardner motioned to have the City of Lake Forest, on behalf of the City Council, send individual letters to Congresswoman Walters and California Senators Harris and Feinstein extending an invitation to each offering to make available venues within the city to host townhall meetings and meet with their constituents. This motion received unanimous votes for approval.
Councilwoman/Mayor Pro Tem Leah Basile also committed to making regular phone calls to Congresswoman Walters to let her know that her constituents are requesting that she make herself available to meet in a townhall meeting setting.
Residents who attended the meeting inquired specifically about photos on social media of Lake Forest councilmembers with Congresswoman Walters at the city’s “State of the City” event on Feb. 22. Lake Forest’s State of the City took place during a congressional “District Work Week,” and while the congresswoman found time to meet with city officials, donors, and lobbyists, she did not schedule face-to-face time with local constituents who repeatedly asked for a townhall meeting.
“We need our city council’s help,” said longtime Lake Forest resident Kristin Eldred. “We wanted to formally request that councilmembers report on their conversations with the congresswoman, and asked for their opinions about her shutting out her constituents who are also residents of Lake Forest. I was so pleased that several of the councilmembers promised to personally reach out to Congresswoman Walters on our behalf.”
Lake Forest Mayor Scott Voigts acknowledged the meeting with Congresswoman Walters, but said that the photo on social media was merely a photo op, and that he did not have a chance to speak with her. He promised to convey the message in his next interaction with the congresswoman that residents of Lake Forest are requesting a townhall meeting.
Councilman Andrew Hamilton commented that he was able to speak with Congresswoman Walters at the State of the City event for a brief period of time, and they talked about President Donald Trump and “just general catching up on life.”
Residents of Mission Viejo were met with a less receptive response at a city council meeting on Feb. 28. After requesting that Mission Viejo Mayor Wendy Bucknum disclose the nature of her conversation with Congresswoman Walters during a meeting featured on social media on Feb. 23, they were met with silence. However, Mission Viejo Councilmember Greg Raths used his time during the councilmembers’ reports of events and activities to express a similar frustration in trying to engage with the congresswoman.
Several Mission Viejo residents submitted a Public Records Request on March 1 asking for all email correspondence and phone records related to the scheduling of the meeting between Mayor Bucknum and Congresswoman Walters. They have not received a response, which is generally required within 10 business days.
California 45th is a nonpartisan constituent group based in Orange County, Calif. The group is entirely volunteer based, and is made up of residents of the California 45th Congressional District.