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NC Church Leaders Among the Snubbed by Sen. Tillis

Citizens gather every Tuesday in front of Sen. Thom Tillis's office in Raleigh to request a meeting with the Senator. (Resist Trump Tuesday)
Citizens gather every Tuesday in front of Sen. Thom Tillis's office in Raleigh to request a meeting with the Senator. (Resist Trump Tuesday)
May 2, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. – Church leaders are among those constituents requesting a meeting with Sen. Thom Tillis, with no success. They have plenty of company - there are hundreds of North Carolina residents who have been asking to meet with the U.S. Senator only to have their requests denied.

The disconnect has resulted in gatherings of people outside of Tillis's Raleigh office regularly since the Trump inauguration.

Reverend Jeanette Stokes, the executive director of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry for the South, says even established, nonpartisan religious groups have been unsuccessful in meeting with the Senator in his home state.

"The North Carolina Council of Churches for instance, they offered to get the heads of various denominations in North Carolina to meet with Tillis anywhere, any time and have gotten no positive response except yes, yes, maybe later," she says.

The North Carolina Council of Churches confirms they have been attempting to meet with the Senator since January.

Sen. Tillis did not respond to requests for comment on this story, but he has held Facebook town hall meetings for constituents, saying it is an effort to be accessible to more voters.

Voters also report trouble meeting with Sen. Richard Burr as well, with some even putting up a "missing persons" billboard in Charlotte in April.

Karen Ziegler is among the organizers of the "Tuesdays with Tillis" events. A retired nurse practitioner, she says most of the people who participate are retired teachers, medical practitioners and stay-at-home moms.

"We're not scary people and we really want to express our opinion," she says. "He's having Facebook town hall meetings. He just pontificates in his own little bubble. I feel like we're in a constitutional crisis at this point if our senators don't wake up and start challenging this president."

When she hears of people Sen. Tillis does meet with, Stokes says she is upset about the lack of accessibility to a state leader.

"I got an email from Sen. Tillis' office touting all of the groups and people that Sen. Tillis has met with in North Carolina and I just shook my head saying, 'No, he will not meet with people who request; he meets with people who are apparently strong supporters,'" she adds.

There are similar attempts across the country by constituents trying to meet with their elected officials with no success. That includes the growing "Tuesday's with Toomey" movement in Philadelphia, where hundreds gather weekly at their senator's office.

Stephanie Carson/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - NC