Four staff members reflect on Congressman’s town hall


Maddie Monroe

A crowd member holds up a sign that reads “NO” on one side and “YES” on the other. Many used the signs to communicate their distaste or approval for an idea expressed by Congressman Bill Huizenga.

Please note that the following opinions do not reflect the views or stances of the Bucs’ Blade as a whole.

Maddie Monroe – Reporter

“If I was that much of a snowflake I wouldn’t be here.” One of the first statements made by Michigan representative Bill Huizenga at his town hall meeting on Monday, March 6. This one statement stuck with me and set the tone for my expectations of the evening. Walking into the Lakeshore Middle School auditorium, the desperation from the crowd was palpable.  The people were desperate for their voices to be heard.  I knew given the liberal stance of much of Grand Haven, a town hall meeting – the style of meeting that Rep. Huizenga often avoids – with a staunch Republican representative would not be a calm experience.  

The crowd asked a variety of questions ranging from preservation of the environment, specifically the Great Lakes, immigration and overall government corruption.  Rep. Huizenga dodged direct answers and was unable to reassure the public of his abilities to represent the needs of his constituents.  He continued to ramble and appeared to just be wasting time in order to avoid the actual questions.    It became obvious that Rep. Huizenga wanted the meeting to come to a close as he continued to ramble and appear to just waste time rather than address the actual questions as well as bring up past irrelevant issues.

As the evening ended and the crowd dispersed, there was an overall air of dissatisfaction.  The only direct takeaway from the event is that a significant amount of progress still needs to be made within our district and government as a whole.

Sarah  Chrysler – Co-editor in chief

Standing outside of Lakeshore Middle School waiting for Monday night’s town hall to begin I saw two things: Make America Great again hats, and pink hats. Based solely on this fact it was clear that the night would get heated quickly, and it did.

Michigan Representative Bill Huizenga had a lot to say at the meeting, most of it though, was made up of personal stories of his own life or avoidance of the question asked. It seemed, to me at least, that he wanted to stretch out answers as much as possible in order to answer fewer questions.

Although I did appreciate hearing that he would like to increase the protection of the Great Lakes, I found little else that was said to be helpful or informative. Some statements certainly had a shock factor that struck me as frightening and concerning to say the least.

“The question is whether I take pharmaceutical contributions,” Huizenga said. “The answer is I do. A very small amount though, there are limits.”

It seems as though he is trying to justify taking money that does nothing but contribute to this very messed up system of healthcare, which by the way, he does not consider to be a constitutional right.

All in all I’m happy I attended the meeting. It is important to inform and involve yourself in any way you can, so I am proud of the people who attended for doing just that.

Maddie Brockmyre – Co-editor in chief

I’m no stranger to politics. I’ve attended town halls, Trump rallies, Sanders rallies and protests. I try to stay as involved as possible, gathering information from the left, right and center.

Of all the events I’ve had the fortune to attend, Congressman Bill Huizenga’s town hall was by far the most electric.

It was extremely vocal. Many of the audience members were restless, pushing Huizenga to answer specific questions in a specific way. But while the majority of the constituents were unhappy with the current administration, a portion of the crowd was applauding the Congressman’s every word.

The conversation bounced around, touching on healthcare, immigration, education and, of course, Russia. Despite 62.2 percent of Ottawa County residents voting for Donald Trump, nearly all of the questions were progressive-leaning. Huizenga faced opposition after stating that healthcare is not a constitutional right, claiming that the courts and press have overstepped their boundaries and arguing that releasing Trump’s tax returns will not help with investigating connections with Russia.

I could see the frustration the constituents held. Several individuals stood with their hands raised for more than 20 minutes, some for close to an hour, patiently awaiting their congressman to call on them. Agitated comments spewed from the crowd as Huizenga danced around answering certain questions, telling unrelated anecdotes and offering information where it was not needed.

As I expected, Congressman Huizenga told his audience what he believed to be true, and I disagree with much of it. But it was a great opportunity to be involved, which is most important to me. I am incredibly thankful that he chose Grand Haven to host the event, giving average people an opportunity to express their concerns. The crowd agrees. Amid the discourse, a common feeling expressed was appreciation to the host for being there.

I can’t say if the town hall changed anything. Personally, I got a better idea of what my representative stands for and some of the issues my fellow constituents care about. But I doubt much will change.

However, I would advise Huizenga to listen to what the people are saying.

2018 is only a year away.

Ben Werkman – Photographer

Bill Huizenga’s town hall was very lively. Hundreds of concerned citizens came to voice their opinions on many issues, the most common being healthcare, immigration, people before party, protection of the environment, and the involvement of Russia in the presidential election.

The town hall got off on a bad foot, with Huizenga attempting to crack jokes to relieve the tension in the room. When he said something about “Hating congressmen is America’s favorite pastime” the crowd reacted with responses such as “It’s your job” or “Why don’t you do something to make people like you”.

Questions were lengthy and held much concern. While Huizenga did answer many questions, he answered most of them indirectly and gave very vague and broad responses. This only made the attendees more agitated. The crowd was mostly critical of Huizenga, pointing out his faults and calling him out on broken promises and his stances on controversial issues.

I felt that this town hall did have a lot of worth. It allowed Huizenga to interact in person with the people of his district and hear their voices, and for the people to voice their opinions directly to their congressman. I think that even though people were upset and fed up with their absence of representation, they should listen to what Huizenga has to say. He is trying to resolve these issues and provide insight on decisions that are hard to make.

Overall, this town hall was a good experience, but there needs to be more productive interaction between the people and their government.