I attended the March 23 town hall meeting sponsored by our legislators at the Federal Way High School. At the meeting, Rep. Kristine Reeves introduced her counterpart, Rep. Mike Pellicciotti and Sen. Claire Wilson. She then outlined the agenda for the meeting and laid down some ground rules/directions for the audience to follow. Unfortunately, some of them were not listening because they had their own agenda.
The first half of the meeting went according to plan. Each legislator gave a short report on what was happening in Olympia including issues that were of importance to them. The second part was answering questions from the audience. Unfortunately, they did not spend enough time doing that so important issues could be addressed.
Before they could move to the third part of the program (taking comments from the audience), the meeting got out-of-hand and very uncivil/unruly as members of the audience (including one particular woman whose voice could be heard all above the others) started shouting out comments. The cause of this commotion? Senate Bill 5395 involving sex education in public schools, and based on comments from those who support it and those who oppose it, it is very controversial. I have never seen this happen before and it prevented Reeves from speaking. It took several minutes before she was able to speak again. This was very disrespectful to our trusted legislators who took their valuable time to meet with us, not to mention an embarrassment to me, other members of the audience and our community.
This was totally uncalled for. It reminded me of a baby who throws a temper tantrum when he/she cannot get what he/she wants. We are suppose to be mature adults but a lot of the people in the audience did not act that way. I work in the schools and we spend a lot of our time teaching our scholars about the meaning of the most important “R” word, which is respect. If you cannot treat our legislators with respect and follow the rules for the meeting, then you need to stay home. There is a right way to have your views heard and a wrong way — and too many attendees chose the latter. This unfortunate outburst wasted valuable time and deprived the legislators of the opportunity to answer more questions and to listen to others who wanted to express their views on other issues that were important to them. What must we do to maintain a “respectful environment” at future meetings?