East End residents expressed frustration Tuesday afternoon over changes to how Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (R-Shirley) staff meets with constituents at his office in Riverhead.
The men and women were among about 50 demonstrators from all five East End towns who marched from the courthouse on Griffing Avenue to Mr. Zeldin’s office at 30 West Main Street to request that the congressman schedule a town hall-style meeting.
The group, which chanted “This is what democracy looks like” as they marched through downtown Riverhead, has been regularly meeting with Mr. Zeldin’s district director since the new congressional session began January 3.
This time, however, they were greeted by a sign at the door saying meetings are now by appointment only. Other tenants of the building said an email was sent out advising them to not buzz anyone they don’t know into the building.
“This is what democracy doesn’t look like,” repeated Robert Brode of East Hampton, one of the demonstrators.
Eileen Duffy of Quogue, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s event, said language had also been added to the congressman’s website this week to say meetings at the Riverhead office are now by appointment only. That language is not included in details about his offices in Patchogue or Washington, D.C.
Jennifer DiSiena, a spokesperson for Mr. Zeldin, confirmed the changes in an email Tuesday.
“Due to the small size of the office, and the new disruption tactics of these liberal obstructionists locally and nationally, this office is now by appointment only,” she wrote.
Ms. DiSiena instructed anyone interested in scheduling an appointment with Mr. Zeldin to fill out a request form on his website. She also dismissed claims by the demonstrators that the congressman has been inaccessible by pointing to his busy schedule meeting with community groups across the district this past weekend.