Representatives are in their home districts right now, but many are refusing to hold town halls with constituents. Around 350 people showed up to a town hall in State College Saturday even though representative Glenn Thompson had said he wouldn’t attend.
Organizer Marc Friedenberg sat a life-sized head and shoulders cutout of Representative Glenn Thompson at a podium for people to address their questions to. Residents of the 5th district filled a lecture hall on the Penn State University Park campus. Friedenberg says they had asked Thompson repeatedly to hold a town hall in State College. When he turned them down, Friedenberg planned one anyway.
“Our message is there’s a lot of people here who want to have a town hall," Friedenberg said. "And there are a lot of things we care about. We care about health care. We care about the environment. And we’d like a chance to at least know that we’ve been heard.”
Thompson’s office has said he’s available to meet with constituents at his office and has called those asking for the town halls both “paid activists” and “political opposition.”
Town hall attendee Leah Witzig told the Thompson cutout she’s worried changes to the Affordable Care Act will hurt her 2-year-old grandson Grant, who has polycystic kidney disease.
“Representative Thompson," Witzig said, "if my grandson cannot afford the premiums in a high-risk pool can he have your insurance policy?”
The town hall was streamed live and posted to Facebook. Organizers say they plan to get a video of the event to Thompson. They also invited him to host his own town hall.