News Local/State

Protesters Return for Rodney Davis’ Office Hours In Champaign

Demonstrators outside the Champaign office of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville).

Demonstrators waiting outside U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' Champaign office, where he held closed-door meetings with small groups of constituents. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

About 75 protesters showed up at Congressman Rodney Davis’ Champaign office Friday afternoon for his “office hour” meetings with constituents.

The turnout was smaller than the Taylorville Republican’s round of closed-door meetings with individuals and small groups three weeks ago. But the demonstrators made enough noise, chanting “Town Hall!”, “Bring Rodney Out!” and other slogans that the congressman’s office neighbors complained.

Davis staff members told the gathering that the building management had advised other building tenants to call police if the protesters couldn’t keep the noise down.

Davis’ Communications Director Ashley Phelps says many of the demonstrators declined an invitation to take part in the office-hour meetings with the Republican congressman. But Valerie Bauza of Urbana says she took part in one of the short meetings Davis held with small groups.

In the ten minutes available, Bauza says she told the Taylorville Republican she disagreed with him on health care issues --- and also about the meeting format itself.

“We talked about how we would prefer a town-hall setting instead of office hours, so that we would have time to hear his response on a whole range of issues”, said Bauza. “Because it’s very hard to get a lot of information in a short period of time.”

Davis says those who have called for him to hold public town-hall style meetings are largely the same political opponents who have criticizing him for years. He says such meetings are not the best way to connect with voters.

“And I believe what we’ve been doing and what we did today for over four hours – meeting with individuals and talking to them, in a face-to-face and interactive way, is a much better way to understand, how  my constituents feel about a certain issue”, said Davis.

The congressman held office hours this week in Springfield, Normal and Decatur, as well as Champaign. He says protesters showed up only in Normal and Champaign, with Champaign drawing the larger crowd. Davis has scheduled one more round of office-hour meetings on Monday, June 5th, in the St. Louis suburb of Maryville.

Davis says he’s happy to meet with people who disagree with him – but he says many others who come to see him are seeking help dealing with government red tape.