U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley came to Seaside Tuesday, Feb. 20, for a Clatsop County Town Hall at the Bob Chisholm Community Center.

The cost of health care, the need for veterans protections and gun control were among issues that jumped to the floor, mirroring the national stage. Residents spoke out against Congress inaction on infrastructure measures, health care cuts and environmental rule changes.

Seaside City Council member Tita Montero provided an opening introduction to an audience that included local residents and public officials, including Cannon Beach Mayor Sam Steidel, Mayor Matt Brown of Gearhart and County Commissioner Lianne Thompson.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting of 17 children at Marjory Stoneman High School, frustration boiled over.

“Please do more,” pleaded one frustrated audience member.

As a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress, Merkley shared the frustration. “I got a text from a friend and he said, ‘Are we going to see Congress act?’ and I said, ‘Very unlikely, because it’s essentially paralyzed by the influence of gun manufacturers.’ Let’s be outraged — and we’re outraged on a daily basis — but also lay out a vision of how much more we can do in our country with the resources we have for a chance and opportunity every individual to thrive and to have the opportunity to thrive.”

The president’s environmental policy also rallied the senator and members of the audience.

“It will take the 2020 election,” the senator answered.

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