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Crowd of nearly 100 shows up to speak with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici Thursday night

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici speaks at a town hall event in Columbia City on Thursday, Sept. 21. At one point Bonamic asked audience members to raise their hands if they supported the idea of a more universal health care policy. UPDATED: Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici made an appearance in Columbia County this week, hosting a one-hour town hall at the Columbia City Community Hall on Thursday, Sept. 21.

Roughly 100 people filled the Columbia City building Thursday night to ask the congresswoman questions and voice concerns about national and state policies.

Audience members were selected to ask questions randomly using raffle tickets drawn from a bowl throughout the event. On several occasions, an audience member who had their number drawn would defer to someone else who expressed deep interest in speaking up.

The question and and answer session covered a wide depth of topics ranging from better access for veterans to health care and resources to general concerns about changes in health care to transportation and trade regulations to gerrymandering and congressional redistricting.

Several audience members shared personal stories about barriers and restrictions they experienced trying to access health care, including one audience member who identified himself as a veteran who struggled to get service at a U.S. Veterans Affairs office.

The man asked Bonamici what she would do to address the need for better services for veterans in Columbia County, which has a large veteran population.

While she didn't lay out any specifics of what could be done in terms of policy changes, she asked the man to get his contact information to follow up later to make sure his needs were met.

"But you're right, you shouldn't have to call your congressmen every time, just to get access to care," Bonamici said.

Others asked her about changes to the Affordable Care Act, which is currently going through proposed legislation changes in the Senate. She told the audience that she would speak out and encourage Senate members to vote against legislation that did support health care reform that helps Oregonians.

"I know we're going to be working really hard to get that information out there," Bonamici said.

During the event two audience members from local Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troop were also selected at random to ask questions. In a more lighthearted twist, one student asked Bonamici what she wanted to do when she grew up, giving the congresswoman a chance to talk about her work and interest in law, prior to her career in congress.

Thursday's town hall, was one of six town halls throughout Oregon's 1st Congressional District in September and October. So far this month, Bonamici has visited North Plains, Yamhill and Tualatin and Columbia City. The next two town halls will be hosted mid-October in Portland and Cannon Beach.

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