On April 7, more than 600 residents of the Illinois 6th Congressional District filled the pews of the First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn for the Town Hall for Our Lives -- but one anticipated guest was missing in action. Our congressman, Peter Roskam, declined to meet with his constituents face to face, to hear their concerns about the plague of gun violence roiling this country and to offer possible solutions.
I'm one of Roskam's constituents, and I've grown increasingly frustrated by his unwillingness over the last 10 years to meet with constituents in anything but carefully choreographed and controlled circumstances. In declining the invitation of the West suburban teenagers who organized the Town Hall for Our Lives, Roskam's office held out the possibility of another meeting in a private setting where Roskam's responses would be shielded from public scrutiny.
I've voted for Roskam in the past, but I've come to realize that a representative who fails to meet with constituents in a free and open exchange is a representative who is failing his first duty to those who elected him. Fortunately, Roskam's Democratic challenger Sean Casten not only showed up to the students' town hall, but listened thoughtfully and answered every question posed by the audience. It turns out Roskam's failure is Casten's opportunity, and after seeing the respect, intelligence and good humor Casten offers the constituents of the 6th District, Roskam is right to be afraid. I predict an upset come November.