Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Rooney Gets Mixed Reception at Town Hall Meeting

Congressman Rooney (left) greets Marco resident Joe Granda.

Congressman Rooney (left) greets Marco resident Joe Granda.

When Congressman Francis Rooney drove over the bridge to hold an informational meeting for Marco residents he came to talk about two of the items he said he wanted to focus on when he first ran for election in 2016.

Rooney saw those as being his desire to see offshore drilling permanently banned off the Gulf Coast of Florida. The second issue was the two-part challenge of dealing with the discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the rebuilding of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is in immediate need of rebuilding.

A portion of the plan to divert water away from both the east and west coast of Florida will help avert the algae and brown water issues affecting the waters on both coasts. Part of that plan will help to move sheet flow back down into the Everglades and restore that balance within the environment.

Protestors outside the Rooney town hall meeting. Photos by Steve Stefanides

Protestors outside the Rooney town hall meeting. Photos by Steve Stefanides

Many who attended the meeting, which was held at the Wesley United Methodist Church on South Barfield, were more focused on both the tragic shootings in Parkland, Florida and the emotional issues concerning DACA and the debate over a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Many called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Many called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

The meeting was heated at times, and some of those attending were less than receptive to anything that Rooney had to say. Rooney did, however, take as many questions that the 90-minute session allowed for in his signature calm demeanor.

Rooney would not commit to a ban on semi-automatic weapons, but did call for better background checks and called for all sides to come together to enact sensible legislation. That was met with participants hoisting bright orange cards which inferred a negative response to his answers.



Another reform he would support would involve the raising of the age to purchase a gun to 21 for both handguns and rifles. At present you may purchase a rifle at 18 and a handgun at 21.

When he declared, “I am for making sure people who are dangerous don’t get guns in their hands,” he was jeered and booed and, once again, up came the orange cards.

He also went on to support the President’s move to outlaw “bump stocks,” which gained notoriety after the Las Vegas shooting rampage that left 58 people shot and killed in October of 2017. President Trump directed the Justice Department to draft legislation to ban them earlier last week. That too was met with dissatisfaction by a vocal portion of the audience.



The debate regarding illegal immigration and the swirling controversy around the DACA issue was another point of contention with the crowd. Rooney found little sympathy for his answers with the vocal segment of those in attendance.

Candidates seeking to wrestle 19th Congressional District Seat from him were in attendance and seeking signatures on their petitions to run for office. Rooney recently announced his intention to seek re-election to that seat.

“When I first ran for office I said I would only serve for four terms (8 years), and would focus on protecting our environment and concentrate on getting the necessary resources to complete the Everglades Restoration Project and the challenges with Lake Okeechobee in place.”

Rooney did have supporters in attendance and met with a number of them on his way into the hall, as he shook a number of hands and greeted many old friends in the audience.

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