Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Town hall meeting seems to ‘click’ with residents

February 26, 2003

Freshman representative Tom Holland's first town hall meeting Saturday at the Baldwin Care Center was well attended and provided him and the audience a chance to interact.

"I guess I wanted people not to think it was the Tom show," said Holland, D-Baldwin, who was elected as 10th district state representative in November. "I wanted to have a two way conversation. I want to do it again.

"I like getting in front of the constituents and hearing what they want. I'll definitely do it again in April," he said. "I just want people to feel like I'm accessible. I want to feel like I'm an ear for them."

There were about 30 people who listened to his 50-minute presentation and the remaining time in the two-hour session was devoted to dialog between Holland and those in attendance and he stayed around for one-on-one talk afterwards. Everyone seemed pleased with the chance to talk about what's going on in Topeka.

"I liked it," said Baldwin resident Ruth Payne. "I didn't understand some of the things that were presented. My eyes glaze over when talk is about the budget. I enjoyed hearing about what he thought were the hot topics."

Holland, who lives between Baldwin and Lawrence near the Gun Club, was pleased to hear what Baldwin City residents have to say.

"I guess my perception was it went pretty well," said Holland. "People's interest seemed to be held. Evidently I was giving them enough information."

What he took away from the gathering were concerns raised during the meeting.

"Some of the common things I was hearing was a lot of concern about health care and small businesses being able to supply that," he said. "The second was I heard concerns about the quality of education, especially with the budget cuts. The third thing was I received a message that the tax cuts from the last session were fairly regressive. What I heard was that if taxes need to be raised, let's be more fair."

He thought the meeting went well and felt like he provided enough information.

"I worried is this too much detail? But it really seemed to click," said Holland, who also was pleased with the venue and the turnout. "I want to thank them for their time and thank the people at the care center who were great in making it happen."

He also said it was the first, but certainly not the last of his town hall meetings. The next one is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. March 8 at the Wellsville Public Library. But, he also plans to have another one in Baldwin and will announce details later.

"Hopefully people will tell their neighbors and we'll do it again," he said.

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