Amid a crowd of hundreds at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown on Saturday morning, dozens of residents came to meet with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell at one of her six Congress in Your Community events taking place in Michigan’s 12th district.
Dingell used the July congressional district work period to meet and discuss issues with local residents. Within the last week Dingell traveled to farmers markets in Lincoln Park, Wyandotte, Dearborn and Taylor. After leaving Ann Arbor on Saturday morning, she attended the farmers market in Ypsilanti.
Dingell has been hosting Congress in Your Community events since she was elected to Congress in 2015. She said it’s nice to be able to speak to people in places where the community gathers.
“One of the places I do them is farmers markets because the community gathers and you want people to be able to come in to talk to you,” she said.
Dingell said while she’s home, it is important for her to hear the concerns of residents, particularly in such a heated political climate.
“We’re home for ten days and a lot of people are really concerned and have a lot of things on their mind,” she said. “It’s really important to me that I do a good job of representing people. That’s one of the reasons why I was one of the people that very early on said Donald Trump would win, is because I heard what people were talking about, what they were scared about, and it’s really important to me that I understand what people’s concerns are, what they need to have addressed, so I’m being a good representative.”
Having met with residents for the past week, Dingell said the biggest concern in general has been health care.
In May, the American Health Care Act passed the House of Representatives, causing controversy and concern. Should it pass the Senate, the bill threatens to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, signed by former President Barack Obama in 2010, which aimed to make health care more affordable and expand Medicaid.
“People are really scared to death,” Dingell said. “Here, I just came to shop — I come to this farmers market. I try to come in the summer every Saturday. A mother came up to me and just started crying, right away — the same thing (happened) at Starbucks … People are really, really scared.”
Dingell said the fate of the bill is unknown. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) said there may need to be a bipartisan health care plan if the bill does not pass, according to CNN.
“I think McConnell is going to try very hard to put something together,” Dingell said.
Dingell said the dispute over health care shouldn’t be a conflict between two parties, as it involves people’s lives.
“That’s what I want every person who votes on this to understand,” she said. “It’s a real person’s life.”
Additionally, Dingell said, people are concerned about their jobs. She noted there has been a “softening” in the auto industry.
In general, Dingell said, people come to discuss a wide array of issues.
“There’s a group Downriver that’s very worried about their pensions,” she said. “A number of them came in to talk about their pensions, education, student debt … but the two issues you hear the most right now from people are health care and their jobs.”