Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times

Rep. Lance Deserves Credit For Holding Town Hall Meeting

Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times — March 2, 2017

In the first month of Donald Trump's presidency, Congressional Republicans nationwide have been met with angry activists and voters who have disrupted Town Hall meetings to shout down comments of GOP House members. Locally, Congressman Leonard Lance, who overwhelmingly won reelection in November, faced the wrath of those opposed to the President's policies.

Mr. Lance over the previous eight years in Congress had been lucky to attract a few dozen constituents to in-person town halls. He holds around 10 a year, half in-person and the others online. But this past Wednesday night and Saturday morning, the 900-seat auditorium at Raritan Valley College in Branchburg was filled to its capacity for both events. In fact, several hundred folks were in another room watching the proceedings as well. The college's auditorium is the largest venue in the 7th Congressional District.

Regardless of the political affiliation of his detractors, we believe Mr. Lance should be commended for facing what amounted to an angry mob at times. To his credit, he said all who received tickets through his website were constituents of his district, which includes parts of six counties including Union County. As of December 31, 2016, Republicans held a 159,367 to 142,792 edge in registration over Democrats in the district, according to the New Jersey of Elections website. Unaffiliated voters, however, outnumber both parties at 224,159. Although Mr. Lance was reelected with 54 percent of the vote in November, Hillary Clinton won the district over Mr. Trump in November.

Other GOP Congressmen in New Jersey such as veteran Congressman Chris Smith and second-term Rep. Tom McArthur chose not to hold in-person meetings. Also, why are Democrats not being asked to hold town hall meetings for their constituents? We ask Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th) to hold one right here in Union County, as her district includes all of Fanwood and most of Scotch Plains.

"I think it's important to communicate with constituents and to have constituents communicate with me," Mr. Lance told reporters.

We believe those who attended last week's meetings should have been more civil. It appears these protests were organized. The protests held every Wednesday night outside the offices of the six New Jersey Republican House members have been organized by New Jersey Citizen Action. Were they involved in last week's opposition to Mr. Lance? Their anger is with President Trump, not as much with House Republicans other than on the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare repeal and replace effort and de-funding of Planned Parenthood. Also, how come questions on the national debt, which has soared to $19 trillion, and the new Gateway rail tunnel from New Jersey to New York under the Hudson River were not brought up? Also, with the loss of Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey, where is the competition for Obamacare-driven health insurance policies?

It has been reported that four of the six New Jersey GOP House members, including Mr. Lance, have been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to a report in Politico.

But that is nothing new for Mr. Lance, who has faced difficult Primary Election challengers along with General Election competition each of his years in Congress.

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