LISBON - The Republican candidate for Congress intends to hold a series of town hall meetings throughout the 6th District, with or without his opponent, U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson.
Bill Johnson issued a news release Thursday saying he intends to proceed with the events after he invited Wilson to participate on July 26 and has yet to hear back. Johnson's invitation was to hold a series of 12 debates - one in each of the 12 counties in the 6th Congressional District.
Since Johnson has yet to hear back from Wilson, he went ahead and scheduled town hall meetings in four different counties, including Columbiana County. His local event is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Salem Community Center.
Wilson's campaign was contacted and had no immediate response.
Johnson accused Wilson of avoiding town hall meetings just as he has proposed to avoid facing voters, which he said is understandable given the Democrat from St. Clairsville's record in Congress.
"Wilson said he had three major goals when he went to Congress: Jobs, jobs, jobs. But unemployment in Ohio is 66 percent higher now than when he took office. He clearly can't defend his failed leadership," Johnson said.
He implied the town halls forum would become a regular occurrence should he be elected.
"I want to take a different style of leadership to Washington, a style that allows voters to have a personal forum in which they can express their views, whether they agree with me or not, " Johnson said, adding Wilson is still welcome to join him at any of his town hall forums.
Although Wilson appears at specific events in the county and has conducted phone-in forums in which he takes calls from constituents, the congressman has largely avoided town hall meetings of the sort suggested by Johnson, especially those hosted by members of the local Tea Party movement.