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Congressman meets constituents

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Webster visits Beverly Hills

By Mike Wright

Citrus County Chronicle

The Sheppard children’s first lesson of the new school year came with a field trip.

Troy and Sarah Sheppard, who home-school their six children, brought them Thursday morning to U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster’s “listening session” in Beverly Hills.

“I wanted them to get an American government lesson,” Troy Sheppard said.

Caleb Sheppard, 16, said he heard plenty about the issues that concern citizens — health care, North Korea, the budget and support for President Donald Trump, among others.

“I was glad everybody was able to talk nice to everyone,” Caleb said.

Webster, a Minneola Republican, doesn’t conduct traditional town hall meetings, which he says turn to shouting matches where only a few people hog the microphone.

Instead, he sat in a chair in the front of the room while everyone in attendance — about 70 — had a chance to offer opinions or ask questions.

Some, like Beverly Hills resident Cairn Pugh, liked the format.

“I appreciate you not answering questions right now,” she told Webster. “It would lead to fisticuffs.”

Others, not so much.

“I have no idea what you’re picking up from here,” one man said.

Webster was both lauded and criticized for his support of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The effort failed in the Senate, but Webster said he isn’t sure the matter is dead.

Several Trump supporters blamed Republicans for failing to following through on a years-long promise to repeal Obamacare.

Larry Taylor blamed the lack of health care overhaul on the political structure, saying members of Congress should be subject to term limits.

“They’re looking at people who re-elect them,” Taylor said.

When an hour had passed, Webster took the mic. He said he would support any health-care bill that addresses three principles: care that’s needed at an affordable price with doctors who patients choose.

“If it comes close I’m voting for it,” he said.

Webster said he enjoys hearing from constituents, but noted that not everyone agrees.

“There are solutions,” he said, “and I applaud everyone for coming and offering your solutions.”