JOSH SWENSON: Representative for Bergman holds a townhall at the library


On Thurdsay, picketers tried to get their points across to Michigan 1st District Rep. Jack Bergman. The trouble was he was not in attendance.

His director of Michigan Operations, Melanie Collinsworth was however. She said, “That’s not what our press release said. Rep. Bergman is in Washington D.C. voting on bills.”

Melanie than proceeded to record the comments and concerns of the 40 or so people who showed up. Everyone was polite and courteous with each other, both conservatives and liberals.

From the list that Melanie collected there was a lot to be concerned about. Health care was probably number one. Over half of bankruptcies are caused because of inadequate health insurance. One man present said he took off from work to voice his concern. He wanted his children to be able to have health insurance they could afford.

There was a lot of support for clean energy. There are reportedly 650,000 jobs in clean energy. Coal has 70,000 jobs. Coal causes (and worsens asthma) and cancer, and puts mercury into the water. Polls were cited where 86 percent of Americans want clean energy.

Liberals at the meeting outnumbered conservatives. Most of the group wanted Rep. Bergman to support Planned Parenthood. One woman put it, “If you don’t trust a woman with choice, how are you going to trust her with a child?”

Probably next to health care was concern for education. The majority wanted public education strengthened. Others wanted vouchers, and one home care mother wanted to thank Betsy DeVos.

There was also much concern about the working poor, and that they should get support, as well as concern about automation’s effect on jobs.

A number of veterans were there, and no one disagreed with them that the VA needs continued improvement. One veteran said though, that he was, “concerned with the shift of money away from domestic needs to the military. Countries fall from within. We need focus on the homeland.”

There was gladness that Melanie said that Rep. Bergman supported Great Lakes research and the expansion of the Soo Locks. Then people said, “Why can’t more people work across the aisle? Will Rep. Bergman work across the aisle?”

Will Bergman address water withdrawals like Nestle in Big Rapids?

Not surprisingly, a large concern was what is the connection between Russia and Donald Trump? People wondered too, about Trump’s tax concerns and lamented Rep. Bergman’s vote against requiring disclosure.

There was concern about climate change, there was concern about government transparency and the failure of bureaucracy to meet the needs of constituents. There was concern about the size of the national debt.

It felt good to actually participate in the exercise of American democracy, as imperfect as it is. Ms. Collingsworth said the day was enjoyable for her too. She said she enjoyed getting around the district. I think she had a favorable impression of Manistee.

Josh Swenson


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