My first live face to face interaction with Kelly Ayotte and I was wondering if I was in a corporate America training session. Power Point presentation ready to go, Senator Ayotte coughing and sniffling at the microphone and me feeling like this is something she has to do, not wanting to do. There was a warning that the Senator only had 1 hour.  But I was open to hearing what she had to present.  Half the town hall was spent on this presentation but not a slide on climate change.

Next was the opportunity for the public to ask questions. We all had the opportunity to submit questions as we walked in, but apparently they are selected by what the Senator would like to address and not necessarily by what the public would like to talk about.  I felt like a prop for her presentation about her agenda.  They did a good job of selecting questions from each main category, with the exception of Gun Control (which was what half of her constituents present wanted to talk about).  But to my surprise they chose a question on climate change.

The question encompassed the Keystone XL pipeline out west and the Northern Pass here in NH and asking for her overall feelings on Climate Change.  She did not address her stance on Keystone XL pipeline, only to say that the local areas affected by the pipeline have been active in opposing it, but did not say that she opposed it.  She briefly mentioned Northern Pass in saying it is different from Keystone XL, she was for burying the lines, but opposed the project otherwise.  She then went on to talk about using our Natural Gas resources as a way to become energy independent. The question did ask to address moving away from fossil fuels, which this does not.  So does that mean she wants to start fracking here in NH?  Apparently, she has history in supporting legislation to reduce carbon emissions and used that in the end to show she does care about Climate Change.  My feeling was that her agenda includes fracking for Natural Gas, but does not support much else as a means to fight Climate Change.

So it was not a town hall where you felt inclusive and open to just maybe the possibility of having your issues addressed.  It was a forced power point agenda with an inability to connect with her constituents in the room.

— Michelle Combe