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Town Hall

Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter speaks during a town hall meeting in Auburn.

Less than a week after inviting U.S. Rep. John Katko to participate in a series of joint town hall meetings, Democratic challenger Dana Balter is moving forward with plans for her own forums. 

Balter's campaign announced Thursday that she will hold four town hall meetings over the next four weeks. The times and locations for the forums haven't been announced, but she will hold the first town hall meeting Saturday, Aug. 18 in Onondaga County. 

The Wayne County town hall meeting is planned for Saturday, Aug. 25, and the Cayuga County forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 5. She will conclude the series of town hall meetings on Sunday, Sept. 9 in Oswego County. 

Balter, D-Syracuse, released her reform agenda in July and pledged to hold at least four town hall meetings a year if she is elected to Congress. She held forums before the primary election in June, including a town hall meeting in Auburn. 

Last week, Balter invited Katko, R-Camillus, to participate in joint town hall meetings. Katko's campaign responded by proposing four debates between the candidates in the final week before Election Day, Nov. 6. 

Balter has criticized Katko for not holding open town hall meetings since he became central New York's congressional representative in 2015. He has preferred issue-specific forums on agriculture, the drug epidemic and other subjects. 

Katko participated in a televised town hall meeting in May 2017. The event, which was televised by CNY Central and held at Onondaga Community College, wasn't open to the public. To attend, constituents needed to enter a lottery. The lottery was used to distribute the tickets. 

Before launching her congressional campaign, Balter was an activist with the CNY Solidarity Coalition, which organized rallies calling on Katko to hold town hall meetings. 

"You cannot represent people you don't listen to," Balter said at a press conference in July. 

During a telephone town hall meeting last month, Katko said that he will hold "town hall-style forums" in August. No events have been announced, but Katko's office has said the congressman will lead more issue-specific forums in the district. 

"I make myself as available as I possibly can on a regular basis and I'm proud of the fact that I'm very open," he said. 

Katko will answer questions in a Facebook Live interview with The Citizen later this month. The interview is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20. 

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