Jobs, the economy and health care. Those were the three main topics discussed at Vern Buchanan’s Town Hall meeting held Jan. 23, at Longboat Key’s Town Hall.
More than 100 people attended the meeting, and Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, opened the meeting by thanking those in attendance and also apologizing for the shortage of seats in the audience.
“We never know if we’re going to have 20 or 200,” he said. “I apologize if you didn’t get a seat.”
Buchanan started his remarks by addressing the fact that many say government officials in Washington are not listening to them. He agreed.
“Many people say, ‘What can I do?’” Buchanan said. “See what the people did in Massachusetts.”
In reference to the Jan. 19 Massachusetts senatorial election for the late Ted Kennedy’s seat, Buchanan said the election was less about Democrats versus Republicans than about residents telling Washington what they want. Republican candidate Scott Brown won 51% of the vote against Democrat Martha Coakley with 47%.
“What happened in Massachusetts — I’m very proud of the American people,” Buchanan said. “It sends a message to Washington that ‘we’re mad, we’re tired and we’re not going to take it.’”
In terms of health-care reform, Buchanan said health care is currently not affordable and not accessible to many. One small business owner in the audience said he pays 100% of his 30 employees’ insurance and that he just hired seven new people, but that all profits from his personal income was being funneled back into the business to pay taxes.
“Three percent of (the $787 billion stimulus bill) went to small businesses,” Buchanan said. “We did the stimulus bill to create jobs.
“That’s the biggest problem — I’ve talked to the president and the administration and they don’t get it,” he continued. “They are tone deaf on the biggest issue in my mind, which is the economy and jobs and getting people back to work to help small businesses be more successful.”
One audience member thanked Buchanan for his work in resolving moving a natural-gas pipeline in Longboat Pass that was slated to be placed over sand both Longboat and Anna Maria use for beach renourishments. He then asked Buchanan for support for the erosion problem near the North Shore Road beach access.
“Our offices work very closely with Longboat, Anna Maria and all the islands,” Buchanan said. “I tell the (town) officials to call me and I’ll do whatever I can do.”
Contact Jessica Luck at [email protected].