Sen. Jerry Moran held his 1,000th town hall meeting and pancake feed last week at the Marion Community Center Ballroom.
The meeting was well attended by county leaders from County Commissioner Dan Holub, mayors Mary Olson of Marion and Delores Dalke of Hillsboro, Tabor College President Jules Glanzer, State Rep. John Barker and his wife, along with residents from Salina to Junction City, as well as Marion County.
Moran spoke about his history and reason for becoming a senator, and reason for having his first town hall meeting in Marion.
“The editor of your newspaper, Bill Meyer, brought me here and took me under his wing,” Moran said.
Eighteen years and 1,000 meetings later, residents of Marion County once again brought up their issues, thank yous, and grievances to Moran.
Several Marion-Florence High School students also attended the meeting. Government and social studies teacher Jeff McMillin brought 11 students ranging from freshmen to seniors to help prepare them for next semester’s government classes.
“We’re getting ready to transition into government next semester, and I thought the event would familiarize them with the democratic process and give them an opportunity to meet a state representative,” McMillin said.
McMillin said he thought most students left the town hall feeling pretty confused, but he thought the knowledge will be invaluable to them as they study government.
“They really enjoyed the pancakes,” he said. “They said they enjoyed the discussion, but some of the issues facing Congress currently confuse them, same with the procedures.”
Freshman Phoebe Hett said she liked Moran’s talk and found it very informative.
Moran said because he spends his weeks in Washington D.C., and weekends and breaks in Kansas, he has time to conduct town hall meetings all over the state and get out and talk to people about issues that affect them.
“Washington will change the way you think,” he said. “It will kind of mess you up. That’s why I travel back and forth from Kansas to D.C. every week.
“I think it’s important to get constituent input. I think that’s how democracy should work. I base a lot of my D.C. decision on talks like these,” he said. “So give me your questions, complaints, marching orders, instructions.”
Several residents asked questions about the Affordable Care Act, immigration, and government shutdowns.
Barker asked Moran what the recent changes in senate rules — regarding filibusters of presidential appointments — would do to the decision making process in Washington. Peggy Blackman, Marion Reservoir Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy coordinator, said she wanted to bring to Moran’s attention how important the Clean Water Bill 319 was in her efforts to solve the reservoir’s blue-green algae problem.
“Message received,” Moran said.
Deanna Klenda of Marion gave Moran her brother’s bracelet. Her brother is currently listed as MIA from the Vietnam war. Efforts to look for her brother’s remains were scheduled to take place this year, but due to the government shutdown, they were pushed back until next year.
“It’s become much more difficult in D.C.,” he said.
“We still have a great way of life and if we don’t protect it we could lose it,” Moran said. “We’re creating a huge problem for younger generations.”
Olson said she thinks Moran covered key issues pretty well.
“I felt like he hit a lot of spots he need to and things he wanted to cover,” she said. “I was glad he talked about the Affordable Care Act because that was one I was interested in hearing about.”