WESTFIELD, NJ — Amanda Woloshen, district director for Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), told protesters outside of Lance's Westfield office on Wednesday evening that the congressman would hold a town hall meeting sometime around Presidents’ Day.
It was the third consecutive Wednesday that protesters gathered outside of the congressman’s office on North Avenue to implore him to vote “no” toward the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, some joined to protest against the immigration ban ordered by President Trump over the weekend. Lance issued a statement Sunday calling the executive order “rushed and poorly implemented.”
“Like a lot of people, I’m very upset about the direction of our country and would like to see things turn around,” Westfield resident and protester Rob Galgano said. “One of our main goals is to get a town hall so he can meet his constituents face-to-face.”
Congressman Lance met with a group of more than 20 protestors in his office on Jan. 18, where he said he would not vote for any repeal that did not include a significant phasing out/phasing in period for a replacement.
“It’s not enough,” Galgano said of the meeting.
With about 130 people, the Feb. 1 protest was the largest to date, according to India Hayes Larrier of New Jersey Citizen Action, an organization that promotes “vigils to save health care” across the state. NJCA plans to continue holding them every Wednesday in February.
The congressman was not in his Westfield office on Wednesday, and a small group met with Woloshen for only a minute as she prepared to leave. In that time, two people told her their personal experiences with the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m terrified,” a woman with Multiple Sclerosis told Woloshen.
Woloshen said the office will announce a town hall soon, once they find a suitable location. The time was not given, but will hopefully be set for a time that includes working people, she said.
Following Woloshen’s departure, people passed around candles and continued to chant “Lance had his chance” as drivers honked and yelled encouraging statements from the busy street.
“The Muslim Ban is un-American and dangerous,” said protestor Barbara Von Kemperer, who attended the previous protests, as well. “A lot of people share this opinion, and it’s good for them to see each other and stick together.”
Spencer Hargiss, a citizen of Lance’s district, agreed that the protests are representing many people.
“My points are not powerful because they’re unique,” he said. “They’re powerful for the opposite reason.”