DENVER – Hundreds of Coloradans have wanted to speak with Sen. Cory Gardner since the beginning of the year. Friday night, he finally granted them that wish – sort of – as a cutout of the Republican senator made an appearance at a local middle school.
About 1,5000 people showed up to an “in absentia” town hall meeting at Byers Middle School, where constituents hoped to talk about pressing issues currently affecting them.
“Over 14,000 people have signed a petition requesting a meeting; hundreds of people have either called or protested outside his office requesting the same. But so far, Senator Gardner has said no,” said Katie Farnan, a lead organizer with Indivisible Front Range Resistance, a progressive group.
“Critical decisions are being made right now in Congress and we need a town hall now, not next month, or something in the spring,” added Lisa Clark, another organizing member with Together We Will Colorado.
In response to his absence at the town hall, Gardner sent the following statement to Denver7:
“Throughout the week, I traveled across the Eastern Plains and the Front Range and had the opportunity to meet with and speak to hundreds of Coloradans and discuss issues ranging from the challenges facing the agriculture community to reforming our health care system. I sincerely value the thoughtful and productive discussions I had this week, and I’m grateful when my constituents contact me to express their thoughts and concerns because their feedback allows me to do my job best and develop legislative solutions that benefit Coloradans."
At the meeting, constituents asked questions to the senator – or rather, his cutout – on issues ranging from climate change to replacing and/or repealing Obamacare, to immigration and standing up to President Donald Trump.
"Naturally, it would be much better if he were here," said Farnan. "But we're going to collect cards and video it and make sure those questions get to him."
"I'm a real person with real issues, and it's important to me that he hears us," said mother and activist Catherine Ashton-Hirst.