Congressman Blackburn meets with constituents, faces criticism - WSMV News 4

Congressman Blackburn meets with constituents, faces criticism

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U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (WSMV file photo) U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (WSMV file photo)

After a somewhat contentious town hall meeting in Fairview in February, Congressman Marsha Blackburn met with dozens of her constituents on Wednesday.

Not as a group, but one on one, behind closed doors. And with some ground rules.

On Wednesday, a few dozen people gathered in the Franklin town circle, demanding that Blackburn come out of her office and speak with all of them.

"It was great that she had the opportunity to sit down with people and listen to their concerns. Unfortunately, I don't feel like she was listening to the concerns we had,” Sara Melamed said.

Melamed was among the dozens of people granted a one-on-one opportunity to speak with Blackburn. The meetings took place behind closed doors, and no recording devices were allowed.

“I think it's better for her to meet with a group,” Melamed said. “I think a lot of us have a lot of things to say. And I think that she could cover a lot more topics in a shorter period of time if she would talk to all of us at once.”

Justin Kanew was among those gathered to speak out against the congressman.

“I think it's fear. She had a bad experience with the town hall last time, where she had a small enough room and the backlash was pretty powerful. She doesn't want that on the record again,” Kanew said.

A town hall meeting in Fairview in February drew attention as Blackburn was booed repeatedly. She later questioned whether those in attendance were actually from her district.

“The last town hall I thought was fine,” Blackburn said on Wednesday. “I was pleased that people were there. We answered every question that came to us from many that attended. They were disappointed they did not get longer answers to some of the questions that were asked.”

Blackburn maintains she wasn't ignoring the plea of Wednesday's demonstrators.

“We are fully booked from 7 o’clock tonight,” Blackburn said. “Some of those individuals have been here today, for one-on-one meetings because they felt like they didn't get the full answer before someone jumped in or cut off the response that I was giving.”

Melamed said she did walk away somewhat encouraged.

“There was a member of her staff that I mentioned, I wanted to really sit down and have conversations with people with different political views, and she said she would love to meet up with me and have coffee and find places where we do have common ground," Melamed said.

The people Channel 4 spoke with Wednesday said they had no trouble getting on the list to speak with Blackburn one-on-one.

Blackburn encouraged people to call her office and set up an appointment while the spring recess is taking place.

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