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Rep. Perry answers questions from constituents at town hall; protesters gather outside; some seats go unfilled

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/31/19

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story will be updated with more details about the town hall.

HUMMELSTOWN — Inside the Hummelstown Fire Department on Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry faced questions …

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Rep. Perry answers questions from constituents at town hall; protesters gather outside; some seats go unfilled

Posted

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story will be updated with more details about the town hall.

HUMMELSTOWN Inside the Hummelstown Fire Department on Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry faced questions from constituents on a range of issues — abortion, his legislation on female genital mutilation, climate change, Medicare for All, gun control, immigration and the line that President Donald Trump would have to cross before Perry condemned his statements.

“I’m not condemning anyone,” Perry said during his town hall on July 30. “I’ve got my vote, and you’ve got your vote. There are things that are said that I find distasteful on both sides. … But we all have a vote. This is America; we all have a vote. You all have your opinions. You don’t need me to tell you what to think about all this stuff, right? My job is to do legislation and be your conduit to the federal government. I do the best at that that I can.”

“But silence is complicity,” one constituent yelled out.

Outside the fire department, about 50 people lined up on either side of Main Street in Hummelstown, criticizing his policies and that it had been more than two years since Perry’s last town hall.

The protests were organized by the 10th Congressional District Indivisibles — consisting of the Hershey Indivisible Team, Capital Region Indivisible, Indivisible YORK, and Cumberland Valley Rising.

Perry is a Republican from Carroll Township, York County. The 10th District encompasses all of Dauphin County as well as parts of Cumberland County and York County.

When Perry’s town hall was announced, some questioned how the logistics were handled. Those who wanted to attend needed to have a ticket, and they had to prove they lived in the district. Many called for the forum to be moved to a larger location.

“When Perry sent out the email, and all of us tried to get tickets, and within eight minutes it was closed and we were all put on the waitlist. The people out here are people who wanted to go in and couldn’t because it filled up so fast,” said Susan Roller, of Capital Region Indivisible. “The only thing we can think of is probably he sent it out to Republicans first or something and then we got the tail end.”

Perry spokeswoman Brandy Brown told PennLive that their priority was the safety and security of attendees and the event was “created with that in mind in concert with advice from U.S. Capitol Police and the House sergeant at arms.”

“We hope this environment may also facilitate a more constructive dialogue with our constituents, as, sadly, many groups around our nation have looked at these forums as an opportunity to conduct political theater and shut down discourse. This is not the first, nor the last town hall, as the congressman will continue to meet and interact with thousands of his constituents through a wide variety of forums,” Brown told PennLive.

There were 118 chairs set up inside the Hummelstown Fire Department, and when the event started, about half of them were filled.

Over the course of the hour-and-a-half town hall, more people were allowed to come into the event, including Marta Peck, of York; Nikki Byer, of Etters; and Cole Goodman, of Susquehanna Township.

With people being put on a waitlist, Peck was expecting 200 to 300 people jammed into the room until her friend who was inside texted her a picture of the empty seats. Byer said Perry’s staff members were telling them that they couldn’t come in because they weren’t on the waitlist.

Ten minutes later, staff came back outside and said they could go in.

Byer wasn’t on the waitlist. When she tried to register for the event, she was told that there were no openings and didn’t get the option of going on the waitlist. 

Peck was, though, and they had come together and Byer was able to provide identification showing that she did live in Perry’s district.

“I consider the whole thing of you have to get on the waitlist and then you have to show ID and all of that to be ridiculous,” Peck said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, Peck said, didn’t require preregistration for his town hall.

“My experience has always been that he’s afraid of hearing opposing points of view,” Peck said of Perry.

During the town hall, which lasted for about an hour and a half, some audience members applauded in support of comments and points that Perry made, while others voiced objections.

“It was civil,” said Tracy Brown, who lives in Hershey.

After, critics and supporters echoed their criticisms and support of Perry.

“I thought he did a wonderful job,” said Carolyn Wolf, of Lower Paxton Township, adding that she agreed with him on most of his stances.

Carlisle resident Robert Hirsch decided to come out after he saw in a York newspaper that people were calling Perry unaccessible. He recalled one day that he had met Perry, and the next time, he remembered him and called him by his name.

Hirsch said he voted for Perry because he was a fan of his military background and how Perry grew up, and the similarity to how he too raised his son while working two jobs.

“The best thing about him is his constitution,” Hirsch said. During the town hall, Perry pulled out his copy of the constitution.

“A nation without law is anarchy,” Hirsch said.