Congressman Tom Reed, (R-Corning), held four town halls on Saturday including one in Manchester in Ontario County. The Manchester Town Hall quickly reached its capacity soon after its doors opened at noon. But people continued to fill in and listen from the lobby eager to hear from their representative. Nora Cunha of Clifton Springs was one of those in the hallway.
"I want to hear what he has to say, I'm happy that he does town halls even if it’s not what a want to hear. I'm glad that he comes to listen and I hope that maybe he takes something away from it."
The crowd was loud and passionate, frequently interrupting Reed and each other to make their points heard.
The conversation quickly dove into various aspect of healthcare reform, an issue that dominated most of the meeting. Aaron Cooper of Geneva asked the Congressman to base his opinions on compassion for his constituents.
"I’d like you to put yourselves in our shoes. The ones who cannot really work. The ones who are working 2 minimum wages jobs and still can’t get all the bills paid. The ones who have to choose between food, medication, housing. I want to know how you as a person would be able to make it. How you as a person, what would you think? What would you feel, to live some of our lives?”
Other questions briefly discussed included U.S. relations with Russia, education funding and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Reed was met with a brief round of applause when referring to himself as the "solar Republican," saying he’s "always looking over the horizon to new technologies," but the room quickly turned once again when he confirmed his support for developing coal.
Margaret White of Gorham was standing towards the back of the room. As a retired teacher, she said education is a unifying force within a society and what is being proposed is divisive.
"I don’t have a flag in my hand, but I’m a patriot. I’m not wearing a Donald Trump hat, but I’m a patriot. And I'm very concerned for the future.”
But not everyone attending at the town hall was against the congressman; Matt Fritz of Shortsville was wearing a pro Trump sweatshirt and said he was interested in hearing what his community had to say.
"I'm a big trump supporter, gun rights are my number one thing. I want to see what everyone’s main concern is here in the town of Manchester."
He was with his uncle Leigh Mallaber, who described himself as the “radical right leaning” member of the family.
“This country of ours is by far the greatest country on this planet, and what makes this country so great is the people sitting in these rooms, represented by people like Tom Reed.”
Despite most of the audiences disagreeing with his views, Reed said he’s been happy with the turn out of the town hall meetings; he said that this is democracy in action, and that it’s all part of the job.
Other town halls on Saturday were held in Ovid, Pulteney and Ithaca.