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Hartzler says town halls not ‘productive right now’ after protesters gather outside meeting

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and seven allied groups held a public demonstration outside the Columbia Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday.

The activist groups said they’re reacting to U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s lack of town hall meetings.

“Our representatives refuse to hold town hall meetings and how can they represent us if they don’t listen to us? They don’t answer emails, they don’t pay attention to the phone calls, they don’t pay attention to the letters that we send. I don’t feel like we’re being represented. Money talks. The constituents don’t,” one protester told ABC 17 News.

Another protester echoed those same thoughts.

“We don’t want her to necessarily agree with us on everything but we want her to meet with us, to listen to us, to be accessible to her constituents. That’s the responsibility of an elected official,” Mark Haim, director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks told ABC 17 News.

Wednesday’s event was a financial-services roundtable. Public registration was closed.

After the meeting, ABC 17 News spoke with congresswoman Hartzler, who said she doesn’t believe a town hall meeting would be effective right now.

“I’m very much honored to serve them and I want to hear their ideas so I invite them to call or to email or to write me. Town hall forums just aren’t that productive right now as we’ve seen nationwide. And so I think there’s better avenues to give their input and I want to hear it,” she said.

When asked how she would like to reassure her constituents that their voices are being heard, congresswoman Hartzler replied, “I do hear them. We have staff here that listens and they pass that on to me. I hear the voices I see the letters, I see the emails and I feel very honored to represent you.”

Some protesters, however, said her answer isn’t good enough.

“I’m not sure how listening to the people who voted for you and the people you represent becomes unproductive. The reason that we keep coming is that we want to hear from her. We want to work with her,” Kate Canterbury with CoMo For Progress said.

Canterbury also said congresswoman Hartzler was personally invited to a town hall meeting on healthcare Tuesday, but she did not accept the invitation.

“I think all we’re asking is for the people who represent us in Congress to listen to us. We’re not asking for them to do anything besides listen to what we’re saying and accurately relay those concerns to people like President Trump,” she said.

Other organizations at the demonstration included CoMo for Progress, Native American Support Group, Deep Blue, Boone County Democrats, Veterans for Peace, Charlie Atkins Chapter, Interfaith Care for Creation and Peoples’ Visioning.

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