Senator Merkley’s town hall draws a crowd


By Tor Gullholm

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”15″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”100″ thumbnail_height=”75″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”1″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show as slideshow]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]Saturday morning, Tigard High School hosted a town hall forum for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. At his first town hall for 2017, the school cafeteria overflowed with a crowd of vocal spectators. There was seating for 205, but every inch of space was filled.

Senator Jeff Merkley has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Donald Trump’s cabinet member nominees. Being an Oregon native, Merkley’s views are a general reflection of the Democratic state he represents. His voice is just one of the 48 other Democrats in the senate minority that is challenging the new presidential administration, and Merkley encouraged citizens to join the senate in sending Washington officials a clear message.

“It really makes a huge impact when citizens feel so strongly, for many of you to come out. The fact is though, there’s another strategy that I want to encourage all of you to use because the connections that make a difference are family and friend connections. So if you put up how you feel on Facebook or other social networks, so your friends and family can see how you feel, that’s influential,” Merkley said. “Across state boundaries, across congressional districts if you have a professional organization, encourage that professional organization to get involved and lobby Republican districts or the districts that might not agree currently, and at the national level as well. Almost every profession has some kind of network; use that network to share your thoughts and encourage them to weigh in.”

Two THS students were given the opportunity to ask Senator Merkley a question to open and close the event. Zahra Hashmat, a senior, asked the first question of the event–Are there precautions and actions to ensure the safety of protesters in Portland?

“One of the issues that has come up is the costs of permits. I was going to organize a health care rally two week ago, and we were going to go to a park; the permits were too expensive,” Merkley said. “Citizens are sending a message to the president, and it’s this: President Trump, you do not have a mandate for this agenda”

Another eight questions were asked by individuals unaffiliated with Tigard High School addressing a variety of different topics. Teagan Langseth, a senior, asked the final question: What is your plan to continue providing necessary health services for low income people in need?

“Oregon has been a leader in reproductive rights and access. We need the rest of the states to follow Oregon’s example. Let me tell you this: what Planned Parenthood does at the national level is millions of exams to check breast cancer, prostate cancer, all kinds of conditions,” Merkley said. “No federal funding goes into the abortion side. We are going to make sure, we are going to fight like crazy to make sure this incredibly valuable health care service [Planned Parenthood] is maintained across this country.”

In his closing statement, Merkley acknowledge the great number of supporters who had attended the event. Then he ended his 289th town hall, which lasted for only a bit over 35 minutes. As the crowd began a slow dispersion from the cafeteria, a loose collection of people gathered around Merkley to ask additional questions.