Republicans Celebrate at Lincoln Day Banquet, Outside Protesters Demand Action
Jasper and Newton County Republicans celebrate their victories in the past election tonight at the annual Lincoln Day banquet. But the night wasn’t entirely about celebrations as protesters stood near the Joplin Convention Center demanding Congressman Billy Long hold a town hall meeting.
Those protesters say by not setting up a town hall meeting with concerned constituents, Congressman Long is not doing his job
“Congress is the people’s house and for a United States Congressperson, that’s part of their job to meet in person with their constituents,” says Krista Stark, Executive Director of the Southwest Missouri Democrats.
They say they’ve made at least 10 official requests and have placed many phone calls asking for Long to hold a town hall meeting, many of them wanting to talk about health insurance.
“They’re very nervous about the Affordable Care Act being taken away and repealed without a replacement and they feel like they need to talk to their congressperson about that,” says Stark.
Her organization joins forces with Indivisible Joplin: Plan MO to protest on Rangeline Road near the Joplin Convention Center where inside, Republicans take part in the annual Lincoln Day dinner.
Long says in his more than 6 years in office he’s never held a town hall meeting.
“When you represent 751 thousand people, having a town hall or whatever they want to call it to sit down with 200 of those 751 thousand, I’ve never looked at as being productive and I’m not going to change my stance now,” says Long.
He adds that he’s happy to talk with residents and that his team does a good job of connecting people with who they should talk to when he’s out of town.
“We’re very comfortable with where we are, I’m not a politician, I never was and town halls are a thing politicians do,” he says.
Many guests saw the protesters on the way in to the event, including Senator Roy Blunt.
“Protesters have to understand that a protest is by definition not a conversation but everybody has the right to do that and its part of democracy,” says Blunt.
One thing protesters chanting “this is what democracy looks like” can agree with.
Congressman Long was one of the speakers at tonight’s Lincoln Day dinner along with Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson and Missouri GOP Chairman Todd Graves.