By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
A public town hall comes to Kings County as local congressman TJ Cox keeps his promise

A funny thing happened on the way to a congressional town hall meeting scheduled for Saturday in Hanford. The congressman showed up.

A Kings County congressman who actually attends a town hall meeting? Such occurrences have been rare indeed. It’s as if Lemoore Councilmember Holly Blair suddenly gave up her Twitter account, or Donald Trump suddenly decided to praise Senator John McCain.

Our local congressman, TJ Cox, was there in all his glory Saturday morning – and on time – another rarity in politics. And despite gloomy skies and the threat of rain, he arrived to meet with his constituents and answer their questions – and there were plenty of them, ranging from health insurance and water to the ongoing viability of California’s high-speed rail.

He answered all the queries, even those shouted from the depths of the nearly 200-person audience, some of whom may have seemed confounded that their congressman was actually there.

The last time Kings County voters got to ask questions of their representative was in 2017 when then-congressman at the time, David Valadao, forced his constituents to wait in line outside his office while he graced the lucky recipients who braved the elements with a mere 10 minutes of his time. His office called this Valadao’s “Hometown Huddle.”

TJ Cox delivers remarks at his Saturday, March 23 Town Hall meeting held at Hanford West High School.
TJ Cox delivers remarks at his Saturday, March 23 Town Hall meeting held at Hanford West High School.
Gary Feinstein/Feinsteinfotos

There weren’t even any snacks for those waiting patiently in line, not that the lines were long. I can’t imagine anyone forced to remain in a slow-moving line to spend a few minutes with a congressman. I might understand waiting patiently maybe for a pair of Barry Manilow tickets – but Valadao?

Valadao certainly wasn’t the only congressman to avoid town hall meetings, particularly during those heady days when Republicans – not all of them – did their best to avoid the tumult and the public’s aggression, much of it arising from the national health care debate going on at the time.

Even our neighboring congressman, Devin Nunes, hasn’t been seen at a town hall in years. Just ask Twitter's bovine @Devin Nunes’ Cow, a frequent critic with a unique sense of humor and who frequently graces the pages of Twitter with astute observations about the thin-skinned representative from Tulare.

Let’s hope this isn’t the last town hall. We should feel a sense of confidence thinking that Congressman Cox held his first one in Kings County. He also announced that he is considering placing an office in Hanford. He already has offices in Selma and Bakersfield in one of the country’s largest geographical districts.

While we certainly don’t expect monthly Hanford or Lemoore town halls – thanks to the geographical dimensions of the district – we do look forward to meeting with our congressman on a regular basis, and if his actions of the past few months are any indication of his commitment to his constituents we should be in good shape.