Heather Lewis showed up at the Braswell High School gym Thursday night with a number of questions she hoped to ask her congressman, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess.
The Flower Mound woman, carrying a small U.S. flag, asked Burgess — during a town hall meeting — where he stands on issues ranging from security clearance for President Trump’s son-in-law to whether the longtime incumbent would have met with a foreign adversary “to get dirt on your opponent?”
And Lewis told him she believes he and others haven’t done their jobs.
“Some of you have been complacent,” she said. “You are letting an illegitimate president sit in the White House.”
Burgess, R-Pilot Point, disagreed and said he’s heard enough complaints about last year’s election.
“Hillary Clinton lost because she was a bad candidate,” he told a crowd of about 200 who turned out for the town hall meeting.
For 1 1/2 hours, Burgess fielded dozens of questions touching on issues from the proposed repeal of Obamacare to immigration.
At one point, a person asked him: “Do you feel like a hero yet?”
A woman in the crowd yelled her response to Burgess: “You’re my hero.”
Burgess is among the members of Congress still holding town hall meetings that have been more in demand this year than in the past, following a spike in Democratic activism after Republican President Donald Trump took office this year.
Some members — such as U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth — have said they aren’t holding town hall meetings because “there are so many threats going on.”
Little Elm police officers were present at Thursday night’s meeting. And Burgess did ask the crowd to remain civil.
But emotions ran high, as people in the crowd heckled, booed, applauded, laughed or cheered as people asked questions or Burgess responded.
Lewis, like others, had a number of questions for Burgess.
When she asked if he would have met with a foreign adversary to get information about his opponent, Burgess replied, “What are you offering?”
After the laughter died down, Burgess did say that he didn’t know if he was asked the same question in October 2002 — a month before his first election — whether he “would have the same answer.”
“You’re in it to win it.”
Burgess’s 26th District covers all of Denton County, part of Wise County and a patch of northern Tarrant County, including Westlake, north Keller and far north Fort Worth.
The congressional effort to revamp the country’s health care plan, known as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, drew many questions.
Burgess, an obstetrician for nearly 30 years, has long talked about the need to undo or change the plan.
The House has passed a plan; the Senate has yet to be able to do the same.
When asked whether he believed a revamp of the plan would lead to fewer people being covered, Burgess said no.
“I think there will be opportunities for people to gain coverage,” he said. “I want people to be covered. Why wouldn’t I want people to be covered?”
Thursday night was the 100th town hall Burgess has held since he was elected. He has scheduled another town hall for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Lewisville ISD/The Colony High School Auditorium, 4301 Blair Oaks Drive, The Colony.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, has two meetings scheduled — one Aug. 15 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Dallas County Town Hall Anita Martinez Recreation Center, 3212 N. Winnetka Ave. in Dallas, and one at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Tarrant County College Opportunity Center, 5901 Fitzhugh Ave., in Fort Worth.
And U.S. Rep. Joe Barton has four town hall meetings scheduled — at noon Aug. 23, First Baptist Church, 201 Dallas St., Rice; noon Aug. 23, 405 South Oak St., Crowley; 6 p.m. Aug. 24, 501 W. Ennis Ave, Ennis; 6 p.m. Aug. 31, 7120 S. Cooper St., Arlington.
Topics of the night?
Among the questions or comments directed at Burgess during Thursday night’s town hall:
▪ Why does he vote against what people in the district want?
“I’ve lived here almost my entire life,” he said. “I’ve found, when I have to make a decision and there’s not time to go out and take a poll .... what I decide to do is supported by 68 percent of the people in the district.”
▪ Does he support the president’s proposal to curtail the number of legal immigrations into the United States?
Burgess said he hasn’t “fully reviewed everything involved,” noting “I’m not prepared to give you an answer on that.”
▪ One woman didn’t have anything to ask of Burgess. Just some advice:
“I need you to get on the right side of history,” she said.
Steve Crevier showed up to support Burgess.
“I’m tired of all the baloney going on in Washington,” said Crevier, who wore a red T-shirt that stated “Trump won. Get over it!” “It’s so difficult for President Trump to get his message through.
“I think he’s doing a great job and it’s starting to show.”
At least two candidates who plan to oppose Burgess on the ballot next year showed up as well.
Linsey Fagan, a Democrat, handed out fliers inviting attendees to a nearby bar after the town hall for “Beers after Burgess.”
Will Fisher, a Democrat, handed out campaign cards, encouraging people to consider him next year.
“It’s disappointing,” he said of town hall meetings Burgess holds. “There’s buildup to this.”
But after people ask their questions, he said, “he rarely answers the question. ... He dives and dips and avoids the question.
“Obviously we think we have a really great chance to flip this district in 2018.”