HILLSDALE, Mich. (WLNS) – A town hall meeting in mid-Michigan Friday morning echoed other contentious gatherings happening across the country.
Dozens of people packed Hillsdale City Hall for the meeting.
U.S. Representative Tim Walberg answered a variety of questions from constituents, producing some heated moments.
It was the first major town hall meeting that Congressman Walberg has held in his new term.
“Hopefully today will be a sharing of ideas, of concerns, of fears,” Walberg said.
People came with concerns and plenty of fears.
One concern they voiced is that the republican lawmaker has been dodging constituents in the 7th district.
“Well, I am in Washington. First time I’ve been home in three weeks. So it’s very difficult to address their concerns in front of them if I am not there,” Walberg said.
Representatives have been going home to their districts and seeing a similar scenario, packed rooms with angry voters wanting answers.
The congressman said he hopes to put some fears to rest.
“The more accurate information we can get out live, unfiltered, the better. That might not make some people who have fears right now happy with the direction we’re going, but at least they’ll know,” Walberg said.
A big topic of discussion is what’s next for health care.
Walberg says he got an inside look at what republicans will be proposing.
“It speaks to expanded competition, more choice, doing away with the mandates,” Walberg said.
Another focus of the meeting was Russia.
Walberg believes there’s no evidence of Russian influence in American affairs.
“If there’s evidence that comes forward that some of our people are involved in illegal ways that will be dealt with,” Walberg said.
The meeting wasn’t all jeers from the audience.
People applauded Walberg when he admitted that climate change is real, and that the Trump family should reimburse the government for protection when they’re out on business.
There was also a mixed response when Walberg said he supported education for all children; however he stopped short at showing support to public or private education.
One of the biggest negative responses from the crowd came from Walberg’s response to a question about illegal immigration.
“Illegal aliens have been let out time and time again, and murdered your fellow citizens. So I am willing with sanctuary cities to say that you can stay a sanctuary city, but you will not have federal dollars coming in.” Walberg told the crowd, which produced a loud negative response.
Patrick Mayer says he attended with other members of the group Lenawee Indivisible because they’re frustrated with what’s coming out of Washington.
“A lot of people, myself included, feel democracy is under some level of threat,” Mayer said.
A moderator ended the meeting after an hour, with many people in the room voicing their concerns that the meeting wasn’t long enough, and Walberg did not answer questions about women’s health.
Walberg said a few comments about Medicaid, but did not answer questions about women’s health.
Moments later, he left the room as people loudly demanded answers on women’s health.
Despite this tense ending, Mayer hopes the dialog can continue.
“We’d like to see a real town hall with more people able to attend, that goes a little longer. And then importantly, allows us to point out when he hasn’t answered our questions, or when he said something that’s not true, which he did a few times as well,” Mayer said.
Walberg says he has held more meetings with constituents than any other member of congress from Michigan.
However, it’s not known when he’ll have another town hall.
HILLSDALE, Mich (WLNS) – In the face of controversial town hall meetings 7th District Congressman Tim Walberg is talking to the public today in Hillsdale.
Walberg is meeting with dozens of people at the Hillsdale City Hall this morning.
6 News Jackson Bureau reporter Aaron Dimick is at the town hall meeting and says the mood in the room began as civil and is becoming more surly.
Other town hall meetings around the nation have developed into heated exchanges and antagonistic sessions.
This story is continuing and will be updated online and on 6 News.