Citizens of Hood County packed the council chambers Friday at Granbury City Hall for a Town Hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland).
The congressman told the Hood County News later that day that Granbury had the highest turnout among other recent Town Hall meetings in his district.
About 150 people filled the chairs in the council chambers, and also stood in the back and along the walls.
Topics covered included Syria, Obamacare, immigration, taxes, gun control, term limits, criticism of the Republican National Committee and the IRS scandal, among others.
Public interest was so high that, instead of the meeting lasting for one hour as originally planned, it went on for two.
“The questions were great, on point and the passion was evident,” Conaway told the Hood County News several hours later, as he was being driven by a staffer back to Midland.
“It was just a great example, in my mind, of people coming to confront their member of Congress to make sure that I understand where they stand on a variety of issues. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how it turned out. Everybody was respectful of each other. Some people disagreed with me, and that’s to be expected.”
Conaway began the meeting with remarks about front burner issues such as Syria and the Affordable Care Act, which he called the “Unaffordable” Care Act. He said that Republicans in Washington intend to “stab it in the heart” by defunding it.
“The goal is to kill this piece,” he told the crowd.
Conaway listened to the views of citizens, and answered questions on a range of topics.
Several people in attendance shared Conaway’s view that the United States should not take military action against Syria. Conaway said he believes it is “pretty clear the president has not made his case” regarding the ability of military action to prevent future chemical attacks by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.
On Monday, it appeared that the views of Conaway and Hood County residents were in accordance with much of the rest of the nation.
A CNN online report about a CNN poll stated that “a new national survey shows (Obama) swimming against a strong tide of public opinion that doesn’t want the U.S. to get involved.”
At the Town Hall meeting, Conaway told the crowd: “At some point, we need to stop being the world’s policeman.”
One woman, however, took a softer stance regarding the president’s push for a strike on Syria.
“If he came up with something that’s in the best interest of our security, we need to let him,” she stated.
Some of those in attendance had driven from other counties, including Erath, Palo Pinto and Parker.
Finally, at around 3, Conaway told the crowd that he had to leave in order to make another scheduled meeting.
A man at the back of the room who was wearing a Vietnam cap told the congressman: “Thank you for coming down here and jumping into the ring of fire.”
a visit with the hcn
Prior to the start of the 1 p.m. Town Hall meeting, Conaway stopped at the offices of the Hood County News.
Some of the issues he discussed with staffers were the same as those raised later at the Town Hall meeting – primarily Syria and the Affordable Care Act.
Conaway told the HCN that Obamacare has left small businesses “stunting their own growth” by keeping the number of employees under 50. He called it a “misguided federal plan.”
The congressman stated that some restaurants in West Texas have found a way to take care of their employees by sharing them with other restaurants so that they can work 40 or more hours a week.
Conaway told the HCN that in the Midland-Odessa and San Angelo areas, the oil and gas industry is booming, and “there is 70 years’ worth of drilling to be done in West Texas.”
However, he indicated that the health of local economies is not a Washington issue. Regarding the economy in Hood County and the fact that many people believe it has been negatively impacted by the lake level, Conaway stated:
“It is not the federal government’s responsibility to prosper Hood County… it’s just not raining on the north end. It’s a local issue. Water decisions are best made locally. My advice is to keep the federal government out of it altogether.”
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