A crowd gathered Monday at the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock to ask questions during a town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano.
Hultgren has been representing the 14th Congressional District – which covers parts of DeKalb, McHenry, Kendall, Lake, DuPage and Will counties – since 2011. He will face Democratic candidate Lauren Underwood in November’s general election.
During the forum, Hultgren discussed his stance on topics from immigration, health care and abortion to gun violence, President Donald Trump and Social Security. At times, he touted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which elicited jeers and boos from many audience members.
“Can you not sense the rage in the room?” an audience member shouted at one point.
“The average family is ... seeing an increase of $1,600 per family,” Hultgren said. “Everybody I have talked to has said they are better off. My family is better off. ... If you haven’t seen it yet, I am surprised, and I believe you will see it.”
He said economic growth and job creation is key to a healthy district.
“A growing economy is better than a stagnant economy,” Hultgren said. “We all benefit when the economy is growing. When more people are working, it is good for the economy. It’s good for our future. It’s good for our seniors. It’s good for people with disabilities. Across the board, it is good.”
Hultgren also addressed questions about the pervasive problem of opioid addiction that is present in McHenry County and across the nation.
“This is an epidemic. So many of our people are dying because of opioid overdoses,” Hultgren said. “We need places where there are beds and long-term treatment. We just passed the largest funding increase for the opioid fight and specifically focused on funding going to communities and states for long-term beds. This isn’t a quick fix.”
Woodstock resident Pam Sourelis attended the meeting Monday and said she wasn’t satisfied with the answers Hultgren gave to questions.
“He didn’t answer any of the questions, really,” she said. “I now know, yes. I am an Underwood supporter.”
Sourelis said the event had too many rules that shouldn’t apply to something like a town hall.
An email confirmation to the event said things such as signs, banners and flags were banned, no jeering or shouting was allowed, and there was a “one town hall per person” policy – Hultgren plans to host several across the district this week.
Hultgren said although it was obvious not everyone in the room agreed with a lot of his policy opinions, he believed there is value in bipartisanship and ongoing conversations.
“My hope is we can continue to learn from each other,” he said. “I feel like I am growing every single day.”