Health care, public lands, immigration focus of town hall meeting

Tina Dickinson speaks out on issues she's concerned about with the Trump administration, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 28, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

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.m.dean@gmail.com.

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Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Free our America March 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I am for a great America and for one that the people run not Washington. I am for equal rights but understand that there are caveats to that in order to be a functional country. I am for women having the same fair shake as men. I am for fairness and all that! What I am not for is while our President is speaking a “town hall meeting” is taking place. I don’t understand fully what the group is thinking. Our President, which I am not for everything that he is doing but for the first time in many many years he is making decisions that would give more power back to the states and people, was laying out some of the ways that he would like to take Washington in a different direction. Meanwhile the town hall meeting is making a video of most of the things that they are addressing. Perhaps they should have been listening to the speech and then made their video with a correct direction of what our President wants to change and see how that coincides with what the group wants to change. That would probably be more effective. Secondly to put 2 chairs up for people that we have elected to be in Washington and to be working while they are being paid by us, then expect them or someone else from their office or whatever to be there. Really? Come on. I know that you are not that inept. Hope you do not think you are fooling us and I hope you are not fooled by yourselves. Climb aboard the train that follows the Constitution, elects and does not elect those that are supposed to represent us. There is a way to make a difference and a way not to. I think your method and timing leans towards the way not to make a difference. I do, however wish that you are able to further many of the issues that plague our town and state today by peacefully voicing our needs.

    • mesaman March 2, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      I think you said what had to be said and the target which you identified should find little solace in their peculiar way of voicing their agendas.

  • dodgers March 3, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Very good points. Extremely poor timing, intentionally chosen. Obviously they are anti-Trump and do not even want to give our new President a chance. They also tried to embarrass Lee and Hatch by choosing their selected time for the event. And they missed the address to the joint session of Congress, so I doubt they even understand his policy goals (or have any desire to understand them). I’d have to give the meeting organizers a big thumbs-down for a failed attempt at being common-sense, objective and informed.

    • mesaman March 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      I haven’t heard or read anything from anyone that you had to be intelligent to be a protester. If the information doesn’t fit your agenda, don’t change your agenda, change the information.

  • jaybird March 4, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Empty chairs for empty republican suits. VOTE THESES RUSSIA LOVING DOGS OUT OF OFFICE!

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