Blackburn holds a town hall meeting; protesters hold ‘alternative’

Protesters held what they called an “Alternative Town Hall” meeting Tuesday outside of the Fairview City Hall where U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, took questions in a Town Hall meeting. Media

Inside, Blackburn “took on pointed questions about President Donald Trump’s first month in office and plans to replace the Affordable Care Act,” reports WPLN.

There were groans as Blackburn defended Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education. And also when Blackburn defended the Republican Congress and the Trump administration on issues like the environment, abortion and immigration.

But there was none of the sustained booing or derisive chants that have characterized town halls in other parts of the country.

One questioner was James Burks, a Brentwood resident and retired educator. Burks is fighting late-stage cancer. He’s received multiple amputations, including of his right arm, and he says his treatments cost $22,000 a visit.

Burks urged Blackburn to work across the aisle to deal with soaring health care costs. It drew the biggest applause of the event.

“I wanted the message to get across that we’re not Democrats and Republicans opposed to one another,” he said afterward. “The people on the lawn, that are marching in the streets and so on, are a mixture of people who have a need to be heard.”

Further from WTVF-TV:

While Blackburn took questions inside, people rallied at the “alternative” town hall. The crowd chanted and speakers talked about their frustrations with the current administration.

Event organizer Bernie Ellis explained that as part of the alternative town hall, constituents of congressman Blackburn recorded messages and questions for Blackburn which will be sent to her office.

“This really is an opportunity to go on tape asking the representative a question or sharing a concern with her, something that I don’t think has ever been done in this kind of way,” he said.

…Congressman Blackburn did address the crowd briefly after the town hall meeting, saying she appreciates the opinions of her constituents and hopes they can work together in the future.

Note: The event drew lots of media attention and reports vary on size of the crowds. The Tennessean’s report estimates about 130 inside; 80 outside.

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