Town hall held to voice concerns despite absences of Sen. Tillis and Burr

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Organizers of a town hall in Greenville Wednesday held the event despite the absence of both Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr.

Organizers had invited both senators to attend, after Tillis and Burr didn’t schedule town halls on their own during their congressional break.

Marianna Montgomery, who put the event together, said both senators are not serving everyone in the state.

“They have a responsibility to listen to those concerns even when they’re expressed strongly,” Montgomery said.

During the town hall, makeshift representations of both Tillis and Burr hung near the podium where speakers could address the senators.

People raised concerns about a variety of subjects, from President Donald Trump and Russia, to healthcare and education.

“I’m just a regular grandmother, I live here in Greenville,” said Jan Paysour. “But it concerns me that only if you’re wealthy or have a lot of money, can you afford health insurance.”

Other speakers addressed planned parenthood, and the right women should have to control their body.

“Planned parenthood also provides testing for pregnancy prenatal care, pap-smears and breast exams,” said Ann Harrington.

WNCT reached out to both Senators Burr and Tillis for comment as to why no town hall was held, but only heard back from a spokesperson for Sen. Tillis.

Spokesman Daniel Keylin sent a statement reading:

“Senator Tillis has been outspoken in calling for his Democratic and Republican colleagues to ignore the most extreme voices on both sides of the ideological spectrum in order to work together and produce bipartisan results. Senator Tillis is working across the aisle to address a number of major issues facing the country, including overhauling the VA to provide better care for our veterans, pursuing bipartisan immigration reform, and reforming our nation’s criminal justice system.”

“In addition to holding regular meetings with constituents in both North Carolina and Washington, D.C., Senator Tillis also hosts regular telephone town halls. In a large state like North Carolina with 10 million residents spread across 100 counties, telephone town halls are an effective way to reach thousands of constituents at a moment’s notice and have a substantive and productive conversation about policy issues and current events. It’s also incredibly convenient for constituents, as they can participate from the comfort of their own homes. The feedback we receive from North Carolinians has been overwhelmingly positive. Senator Tillis will be holding more telephone town halls soon.”

But organizers said that isn’t enough.

“Telephone town halls are not the same as talking to people in person in the state,” Montgomery said. “Both of our senators do hold meetings with community groups but they’re selecting who they want to talk to.”

Some in the crowd felt ignored and as if their concerns didn’t matter to those elected to represent them.

“We are not their constituents,” said Cass Wigent. “Their constituents are the big corporations that control all of that money.”

A recording of the town hall will be sent to Senators Burr and Tillis.

To contact Sen. Tillis, click here.

To contact Sen. Burr, click here.

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