CEDAR CITY —Rather than sitting through an hour and a half of President Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night, a local Cedar City group instead elected to use the time to prepare video comments to send to Washington.
Women’s rights, health care, education, public lands and immigration were the topics of discussion for more than 100 voters who turned out for a town hall meeting at the Cedar City Public Library.
The event was organized and sponsored by the Women’s March on Washington Cedar City group. Congressional leaders Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart were all invited to attend but did not nor did they send representatives in their place. The group set up chairs in front of the meeting where the men would have sat had they attended. Each chair had a sign attached with the legislators’ names.
“Thanks for showing us the respect of showing up tonight,” Kanarraville resident Andy Marvick joked as he turned toward the chairs as though speaking to the congressmen.
Similar town hall meetings have been held throughout the country during the legislative recess. Many of the meetings were reported to be filled with constituents, hostile to the new administration and largely Republican-held Congress, demanding something be done about Trump’s agenda and challenging his proposed policies.
The Cedar City meeting however, was quiet in comparison as attendees, one by one, voiced their opinions for two hours in front of a video camera set up in the south corner of the library. Event organizers said they planned to edit the video following the meeting to prepare it for Trump and those from Utah’s congressional delegation not in attendance.
In respect for their surroundings, the group chose to use a thumbs up gesture rather than the traditional applause to demonstrate their approval for others’ comments.
Paper was also provided so the public could write letters to their state legislators regarding Utah-related issues. Public lands were among those items listed.
“I want to ask what are you (Congress and Trump) going to do to protect our natural resources so that every generation of 10-year-olds from now on will have safe places to play and swim and enjoy the outdoors,” an Iron County resident said.
The likely annihilation of the Affordable Care Act also weighed heavy on the minds of many who expressed fear over the possibility of losing their insurance.
“Healthcare, the Affordable Care Act, certainly has its problems but it has provided insurance and medical access to many people who could not afford to get it before,” an Iron County resident said.
But even as attendees spoke out against the idea, Trump was calling on Congress Tuesday evening to repeal and replace Obamacare with a comprehensive package beneficial to all Americans.
“Obamacare is collapsing – and we must act decisively to protect all Americans,” Trump said. “Action is not a choice – it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”
Trying to appeal to Congress and Trump, attendees begged the new administration not to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, some of them sharing personal stories of not being to afford birth control and at the same time not being ready to have a child.
Attendees also discussed their fears over the recent rise in hate crimes throughout the country, blaming Trump for setting the tone via his “disrespectful interactions and communications.”
“My question or concern is the recent uptick in Hate Crimes and the basic acceptance of disrespectful interactions and communications, being demonstrated from our highest branches of government, therefore setting a standard across the country,” Cedar City resident Tina Dickinson said. “My children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins are afraid and they do not feel safe in our community.”
Dickinson called on Utah’s leaders to “get back to promoting Utah values.”
Others spoke on the issue of a woman’s right to choose, reiterating the same message sent during the January protest.
The rights of the LGBTQ community was also a reoccurring theme during the night as was immigration with many comments reflecting the attitudes being debated on the national forefront.
“I want to challenge and encourage our senators and congressmen on a state and national level to make Utah a sanctuary state for all immigrants in our region whether they are legal or illegal,” one of the commenters said. “And to support any local organization or municipalities that seek to offer sanctuary to immigrants who fear deportation.”
The Woman’s March in Washington of Cedar City is a local group of approximately 200 members. It was organized after last month’s march and has given many people in the community an opportunity to network with others who have similar political leanings, Arlene Braithwaite, one of the group’s organizers, said.
The group believes in inclusion for all, diversity, the arts, science, public education, the environment, democracy, women’s rights and human rights.
If interested in joining the group or information on the town hall, email Emily Dean at: Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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