Looking for answers: Oklahomans hope town hall will get senators’ attention

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - Hundreds gathered at Rose State College Saturday for a variety of reasons.

"I think with what's happening now with the education, the way it is with all of the cuts, the EPA and everything else, it's kind of scary and we want to know," said Quanah Schlesselman.

Hot topics at the town hall included education, the care of veterans and healthcare.

During the discussion, many hoped their concerns would be heard by Oklahoma Senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe.

“This is the result of various and multiple attempts of different groups of people trying to connect with Senator Lankford and Senator Inhofe and not having any luck," said Jennifer Harmon with Indivisible Oklahoma, the group that organized the event.

She said the town hall was met with resistance from one of the senators.

“We know that senator Lankford expressed some reservation about this town hall kind of event," Harmon said. "He wasn’t sure that we were civil or had the capacity to have meaningful dialogue.”

We reached out to both senators for comment.

We didn't hear back from Inhofe's office and, according to a press release, Lankford was in the Middle East for an Intelligence Committee trip.

Still, many were asking about priorities.

“I don’t know who they’re representing," said Melanie Burnett. "But, obviously, if they’re not here, it’s not us.”

"You need to be with the public, and at least hear from them and not just depend on sending post cards," said Steve Schlesselman.

Indivisible Oklahoma plans to send a video of the town hall to both senators.

Sunday, the following statements were issued:

“Senator Lankford supports the right for progressives and Oklahomans of all political backgrounds to exercise their First Amendment right through peaceful protests. But, if Indivisible’s objective is to ‘be heard’ or share an opinion with Senator Lankford in a timely way, they should visit, write or call our office — Lankford’s office is always open to all Oklahomans.

Senator Lankford is interested in a meaningful dialogue, rather than media events that do not facilitate civil conversation. Since he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, Lankford has held hundreds of community forums, listening events and telephone town halls. Because of the intense Senate legislative schedule during the first six months of this year, Senator Lankford needs to be in Washington, DC more than normal. When the schedule allows, Senator Lankford will return to holding his regular community forums and listening events.” – Aly Beley, Spokesman, Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

 

“I’m offended an organization like Indivisible Oklahoma would make the statement Senator Lankford does not care about our veteran’s. This could not be further from the truth. If this organization would take the time to read our website for the past two years, they would see what the senator is doing to support our veterans, they would not have made this inaccurate statement. As you know, I’m a veteran, and I know firsthand what the senator is doing and how hard is working to support the men and women who wore the cloth of our great Nation. In addition, I sat in on the interview with David Shulkin the new VA Director when he came to our office a few weeks ago. The senator was very specific his areas of concern regarding the VA and about the importance he places on the health of the veterans. He wants to work with Secretary Shulkin to help fix many of the problems facing VA facilities around the country.

In over two years working for the senator - he and I have traveled around the State visiting several VA facilities. We have talked with veterans, heard their concerns and have taken the necessary action to address their problems. I know I have personally worked on several veterans issues and have been successful in resolving their problems."  – Rear Adm (Ret), Chief of Staff, Senator James Lankford (R-OK)