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Town Hall meeting in Olathe packed with concerned Kansan constituents

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OLATHE, Kan. -- There was barely any standing room left at the town hall meeting at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe on Thursday night. Metro folks packed into the auditorium to hear speakers talk about current issues in our nation. Those in attendance say changes are in order, and they felt this is the best way to get their voices heard.

“I think there`s a very clear message that people are concerned,” said one attendee, Dot Nary.

And that's why so many attended the town hall on Thursday.

“I`m concerned for the country, the direction the country is going, I`m a historian and the parallels between history and what`s happening in the country now are very scary,” added Jeff Howards, another attendee.

“I live with spina bifida, I have used a wheelchair since the age of 30, I have a very full life, and a good quality of life, but I depend on good comprehensive healthcare to maintain it,” Nary said.

And while Nary is insured through her employer - she worries what would happen if she needed different coverage. While cameras were not allowed inside -- FOX 4 heard people talk about the need to prevent history from repeating itself.

“I`m Jewish, and the rise in anti-Semitism across the country right now is extremely scary,” Howards added.

“I think there is an atmosphere of hate, disrespect, just lack of respect for human beings, and I think it`s increased since the election,” said Nary.

One political science professor says involvement in something like a town hall meeting, where people are showing up in person -- sends a very strong signal to their representatives, and that`s what makes them effective.

“When they do hear from constituents in a way that is intense, that shows a high level of citizen interest, that`s when they start to pay attention,” said Greg Vonnahme, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMKC

Those in attendance hope the large number of people that showed up sends a very strong message.

“It worked in `74 when the people forced Nixon to resign, it worked in `68 to get the war to end, it will work again, there is power within numbers and within the people,” Howards said.

“We don`t have very high levels of voter turnout, so this signals people are paying attention in a way that they aren`t normally, depending on how you feel about levels of citizen involvement,” said Vonnahme.

Despite their representatives not being present, those in attendance say they hope they're listening.