Government

Congressman Lance Speaks with ‘Country Before Party’ Protesters in Westfield

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Lance invited protesters into his office, where they spoke for more than an hour about an investigation into Trump's ties with Russia, healthcare and North Korea. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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Protestors from Westfield 20/20 and New Jersey Working Families Alliance gathered in front of Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office to read a proclamation and tape it to his office door. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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Lance invited constituents into his office, where they spoke for more than an hour about an investigation into Trump's ties with Russia, healthcare and North Korea. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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Protestors from Westfield 20/20 and New Jersey Working Families Alliance gathered in front of Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office to read a proclamation and tape it to his office door. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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WESTFIELD, NJ – Protestors congregated around Lisa O’Dwyer, a member of Westfield 20/20, on Wednesday evening as she, dressed in full colonial garb, read a proclamation demanding that Congressman Leonard Lance put country before party during the Trump Administration.

The proclamation included demands for Lance to denounce President Donald Trump’s executive orders, mistreatment of women and healthcare plan, among others. O’Dwyer, along with members of Westfield 20/20 and New Jersey Working Families Alliance, intended to tape the proclamation to Lance’s door, but was cut off by the congressman before she finished the reading.

“We are reading a proclamation based on our current unhappiness with the administration and our representatives,” O’Dwyer said.

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During the reading of her proclamation, Lance stepped outside and invited about 25 protestors to join him in his office.

“Would you like to come in?” Lance asked protestors as O’Dwyer read. “You’re welcome to come in.”

Once inside his office, Lance’s constituents questioned him for more than an hour about his views towards healthcare, with a few brief questions about North Korea and the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia.

“We’re asking you to step in front of the situation and represent your constituents,” one woman said.

“I think I did step in front of the situation when I voted ‘no’ on the proposed healthcare,” Lance said. “I was one of 20 people on the Republican side to vote against the healthcare bill. I was under tremendous pressure to vote for it.”

Additionally, Lance said that he does not expect the current healthcare bill to be approved by the Senate and would prefer to build upon the system of healthcare coverage through employment. He also said that he wished former President Barack Obama had negotiated with Republicans more when creating the Affordable Care Act, which prompted backlash from the constituents.

“What about the investigation for Trump’s ties with Russia?” another constituent asked. “This should never happen to any party. It’s ridiculous. We would like you to state a position that reflects it.”

“I think that Robert Mueller will come to conclusions fairly and honestly,” Lance said. “I said two weeks ago on MSNBC to ‘let the chips fall where they may.’ I think that’s a pretty bold statement for a member of my party, though it may not be bold enough for you.”

Another member asked for Lance’s opinion about North Korea following news  that the country launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“North Korea is the most dangerous place on earth,” Lance replied. “I hope some sort of accommodation can be made at the G20 summit in Germany this week. North Korea relies heavily on imports from China. I hope Trump and his colleagues are able to reach an agreement so China can be more influential on its out of control sibling.”

The meeting ended with constituents pleading with Lance to represent themselves and their viewpoints, instead of his or the views of the Republican Party.

“I want to represent the constituents who voted for me, the constituents who didn’t vote for me and the constituents who don’t vote,” Lance said. “I want you to know that the districts in New Jersey are good districts. They are not gerrymandered. In New Jersey, the legislature does not create our districts, a bipartisan commission does. We’re one of seven states where that’s the case.”

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