The recent Congressional District 4 constituents’ town hall at the Monmouth County Library was a missed opportunity for Rep. Chris Smith to hear from his own constituents on one life altering topic — the health consequences of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
My requests as a constituent to Smith’s office for his town hall or other public events schedule have gone unanswered. I attended the meeting as a concerned constituent who gained health care coverage under the ACA, not as an agitator. The meeting, attended by several hundred constituents, featured moving personal testimony from Smith’s constituents who will suffer from the repeal of the ACA without an adequate replacement continuing both affordability and the ACA’s patient protections.
As for recent statements by Smith and aide Jeff Sagnip that threats, hostility and verbal abuse have been directed toward the congressman and his staff, I condemn all disrespectful and undemocratic behavior. The tone of the town hall proved that Smith’s constituents in attendance favored a respectful democratic discourse.
What Smith’s constituents at the meeting are seeking from him is an open dialogue on how he will represent and advocate for us on any upcoming changes to our nation’s health care system, an issue that for many is life or death. Smith should not allow the bad behavior of a few to negate the real-life concerns and fears of those whose health relies on the ACA, and who are affected by Rep. Smith’s voting choices on health policies.
This letter also appeared in the Asbury Park Press.