ANDERSON — The first people arrived more than an hour before Rep. Susan Brooks’ “Connect with Your Congresswoman” event on Saturday — and many were unhappy with the format.
Members of a group called Indivisible Indianapolis wanted Brooks to conduct a traditional town hall meeting at the Anderson Impact Center, but the event was scheduled as a one-on-one conversation.
Several times the large crowd, many of whom came from outside of Madison County, chanted “come on out” and “speak to us,” hoping Brooks would address the gathering on the issues.
Several people who met with Brooks did come out of their meetings to tell demonstrators what question they asked and the response from Brooks.
“This is what our democracy is about,” Brooks said before starting to meet with constituents. “I recently started a weekly video called “What I’m Hearing.” I thank people for being engaged, we’re listening, we want to hear from people.”
Brooks said the demonstrators are part of the democratic process.
“We may not agree on all policies,” she said. “But we may find agreement. This is happening all over the country.”
Brooks said there are people who want to talk about issues that impact them individually.
Jan Passwater, Anderson, said she didn’t like Brooks meeting privately to discuss issues when the majority of people in attendance had the same concerns.
“I’m worried about Social Security, Medicaid and repeal of Obamacare,” she said.
The No. 1 concern expressed by those standing in line was the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but others cited the environment, immigration and the America First philosophy of the administration of President Donald Trump.
Anderson resident Nancy Norris, battling lung cancer, was concerned about any changes in the Affordable Care Act.
“I worked 38 years for General Motors and had health insurance; my concern is that I’m afraid I won’t be able to get affordable health insurance.”
Norris said she is worried any changes in the Affordable Care Act would eliminate coverage of pre-existing conditions. She said she doesn’t trust Republicans who said that wouldn't happen with any new health insurance program.
Zionsville resident Lynn Jenkins came to Anderson to express her concerns about the ACA.
“The Affordable Care Act needs to be repaired, not replaced,” she said. “There are some cost issues, part of that is getting the insurance companies involved.”
James Ziegler, Carmel, was worried about the recent executive orders issued by Trump concerning immigration.
“I want her to support a path to citizenship for people who passed a background check and are separated from their family members,” he said. "During the Holocaust, I think if we had it to do over, we would have accepted more than 21,000 Jewish people from Europe. This is the next worst refugee situation since the Holocaust and our country’s response to it has been pretty sad.”
Carly Boos, Indianapolis said she was fine with additional background checks of people wanting to enter the United States.
“What happened last week was not vetting anyone,” she said. “People who are teachers, doctors, scientists allowed legally to be in this country were illegally kept out of this country. That’s not right.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.