More than 150 citizens attended a “Demonstration to Demand Answers” outside Rep. Chris Collins’ office today. The rally was critical of Rep. Collins for not being accessible to his constituents, and attendees demanded that he host a town hall meeting. Rep. Collins has refused to hold a town hall meeting, characterizing them as being “very unproductive.” Publicly, Rep. Collins has said he is willing to meet with constituents one-on-one and in small groups. However, several rally attendees reported they attempted to take the Congressman up on this offer, but have not had any success in receiving a response from his office.
“Mr. Collins continues to ignore the voices of his hard-working constituents,” said Michelle Shoeneman, a constituent of Rep. Collins and a representative of Citizens Against Collins. “We are real people with real concerns, yet he dismisses our repeated attempts to reach him. We will not be silenced until we have true representation.”
In addition to being critical of Rep. Collins for being inaccessible to his constituents, rally attendees were also upset about the role the Congressman has played in defending the Trump administration. For example, he has been extremely vocal in defending the Trump administration’s refugee and Muslim ban and its plans to build a wall along the Mexico border, while deflecting attention away from Lt. Gen. Flynn’s resignation and the administration’s links to Russia.
“Congressman Collins has found plenty of time to carry water for the Trump administration,” declared Jenna Wozer, a constituent of Rep. Collins and an organizer of today’s event. “And yet he has no time for us, the people he was elected to represent.”
Rally attendees displayed signs that demonstrated concerns over numerous issues, including the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, possible cuts to Medicaid, plans to construct a wall along the Mexico border, the administration’s refugee and Muslim travel ban, and President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, amongst many others.
“On these issues and many others, we deserve to hear directly from Mr. Collins, and it is his responsibility to hear directly from us,” proclaimed Ashley Barr, a constituent of Rep. Collins and representative of Huddle for the 27th. “Our ask of Mr. Collins is very simple: Given that he was elected to serve the constituents of his district, we ask for accountability to those constituents by holding regular town hall meetings.”
Given Rep. Collins’ lack of response to calls and emails, and his refusal to hold a town hall, rally attendees left post-it note messages for the Congressman on his office door. The more than one hundred post-it notes created a colorful and compelling visual of just how persistent Rep. Collins’ constituents are willing to be to get their Congressman’s attention.
Furthermore, rally attendees expressed offense at Rep. Collins’ assertion that those opposing him are not his actual constituents, but rather imported protesters. Jenna Wozer reflected this sentiment during her statement:
“We are your constituents. We are not professional protesters imported by George Soros. We hail from Clarence, Williamsville, Lancaster, East Aurora, Hamburg and every other corner of the 27th. We are the real deal, and we are not going away. It’s time we had a serious conversation.”
The “Demonstration to Demand Answers” was organized and co-sponsored by ACTion Buffalo, Buffalo Resists, Citizens Against Collins, Huddle for the 27th, Indivisible NY 27, Sister District WNY, Turning Election Emotion Into Action and the WNY Peace Center.