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Kenosha group holds town hall for an absent Paul Ryan

Posted: 6:18 AM, Feb 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-27 07:18:36-05
Several hundred people in House Speaker Paul Ryan's district voiced their concerns Sunday night to an empty chair. 
 
A liberal activist group called Forward Kenosha organized a town hall to give people a chance to ask their congressman questions, but Ryan didn't attend 
 
Ryan's press secretary said by email that Ryan was unable to attend the event. Nevertheless about 75 people stood up in a town hall style to "ask" the speaker questions.
Lee Hansen lives in Racine and says he has voted for Ryan once in the past. 
 
He hoped to express his concerns Sunday over his grandchildren possibly getting drafted into a war.
 
"I worry about my children," he said. "I'm a veteran myself. I would hate to see my grandchildren go somewhere unnecessarily and risk their lives." 
 
But Hansen and dozens of other people who live in Ryan's district didn't receive any answers to their questions. 
 
"I think we're a forgotten bunch," said Hansen. "He's the Speaker of the House, he's a vice president candidate, he doesn't seem to be our congressman anymore." 
The group hosting the event, Forward Kenosha, was formed after the November election. 
 
One of the group's board members says they have protested outside of Ryan's office in the past but planned to hold a calm event with this town hall. 
 
"We said you know...no shouting, no boo-ing, you can bring signs but make them respectful," said Charlie Breit, a Forward Kenosha board member. "The goal here isn't to sit here and create a mockery and call him out, the goal was really to have people of his district feel heard." 
 
Those who spoke brought up topics like healthcare, refugees, planned parenthood and education. 
 
"We just want to know what you're doing and how you're representing us," said Breit. "And we haven't felt like we got that. We get a lot of form letters back but we don't get a chance to hear from him directly." 
 
Forward Kenosha says it plans to send video of the event to Ryan's office. 
 
Ryan's press secretary says the speaker doesn't have any town halls of his own scheduled in the near future but if he does schedule one, they will post the information on his official website. 
 

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