ERIE, Pa. — Members of congress are on recess this week, so the community invited Erie’s two representatives to come to a town hall meeting Tuesday night.
However, Reps. Mike Kelly and Glenn Thompson did not show up, and the community did not stay silent.
Around 200 people pack into Hirt Auditorium at the Blasco Library Tuesday night for the town-hall style meeting.
“Since they redrew the lines to split our county, folks really felt like they haven’t had an opportunity to ask questions and to share comments with the representatives,” Daniel Doubet said.
One of the big concerns of the evening — the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m asking them to give us a viable replacement,” said Darnell Stallworth, who had a stroke at 40.
Stallworth said he relies on a home health aid to keep living at home instead of a nursing home. He said that is made possible because of the Affordable Care Act.
Those who work in the health care business also stood up for the ACA.
Tonia Bartholomew, a certified nurse assistant, said, “It’s the resident that I take care of because it’s the elderly and they’re going to lose out. It’s my friends that are pregnant and can’t afford insurance. And kids and I have friends with disabilities.”
Doubet said the congressmen say they did not come because of fear it would be partisan.
“They were afraid of a spectacle,” Doubet said. “I think across the country you’ve seen these things get kind of ruckus. That won’t be what this is like tonight.”
Even though the representatives were not in attendance, those that were are still hoping they still here this message.
“We have another redistricting in 2020 and we want to make sure the lines are drawn to combine our community,” Doubet said.
Rep. Glenn Thompson sent out a statement explaining why he declined an invitation to a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Blasco Library in Erie.
“Unfortunately, the individuals who have been most vocal about holding a town hall have also declined offers to meet with the congressman personally,” the statement from Thompson’s communications director Renée Gamela said. “What Mr. Thompson will not do is offer a venue for paid activists and political opposition to create a spectacle.”
Kelly released the following statement:
“Our office evaluated Rep. Kelly’s invitation to last night’s event with clear eyes and common sense. The gathering was hosted by an openly partisan organization and was clearly meant to be a political demonstration, designed not to inform constituents but to create a spectacle. We are fully aware of the pre-planned disruptions that have been occurring at congressional town halls across the country. These protests have unfairly denied constituents an honest forum with their representatives, and ultimately rendered the events useless. We would not want the same to occur in Erie or elsewhere in the Third District. To better serve our constituents and ensure their safety, we will be hosting a tele-town hall meeting next Monday evening so that thousands of people can participate free of charge from their own homes. We encourage everyone at last night’s event to join the discussion.
“Rep. Kelly believes that every constituent’s opinion matters and that every voice deserves to be heard. Since taking office six years ago, he has maintained a constant travel schedule throughout the Third District to visit different schools, businesses, hospitals, factories, veterans’ halls, sporting events, and other places where his constituents work and spend time. This includes countless visits to Erie. In addition to his busy tour schedule and year-round tele-town halls, Rep. Kelly gladly offers his constituents numerous ways to contact him with concerns, including e-mail, regular mail, Facebook, Twitter, and direct calls to his four full-time offices in Pennsylvania and Washington.”