PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Update with Walden health care reform comments)
Hundreds of residents, many of them clearly upset, gathered in Prineville at Crook County High School Thursday morning for the first of the day’s two Central Oregon town halls hosted by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.
Walden answered questions from the crowd of about 600 for 90 minutes, and his answers drew mixed reactions from many in the audience – from boos to cheers and shaking heads.
While the lack of a town hall in Bend for four years has drawn attention and some weekly protests in recent months, a Prineville woman said Walden hadn’t held one there since she moved to town six years ago.
The public’s questions focused on a variety of issues, from climate change to health care reform, mental health treatment and the epidemic of opioid abuse.
And with every question, the citizen asking began with, "Thank you for being here, sir."
But it was evident as the event continued that many audience members had become disgruntled as Walden, in one man’s words, “walked around the question.”
Regarding House Republicans' recent failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Walden said the issues the country is facing remain: "We need to get our act together now, otherwise our younger people will take on all our debt."
The congressman was not specific about what changes would be sought now, but added, "The treatment we want for the people in need is with hope it will actually help them."
Some people had begun mumbling under their breath by the time the town hall finished. One Prineville woman told NewsChannel 21, "His job is to work for us. If he doesn't vote for us, we won't vote for him."
Walden was live in our studio with Lee Anderson on NewsChannel 21 Fox at Four, and we plan to livestream on Facebook his 5-6 p.m. town hall at Mountain View High School