It was 105 degrees outside and not much cooler inside as Congressman Tom McClintock opened a town hall meeting in a suit and tie at Jackson High School Monday night.
The meeting began with a call for unity when McClintock asked for an exchange of ideas instead of insults.
"Civility is what holds our country together and makes democracy work and we are losing it," McClintock says.
He spoke about the shooting in Virgina last week that injured colleagues, staff members and Capitol Police.
"We all know there's a lunatic fringe on both sides of the spectrum and the next attack could just as easily come from one side as the other," he says. "I've heard it said we must have unity. But, before we can have unity, we must have civility. That's what we've lost."
The air conditioning was working in the gymnasium, but most of the cool air escaped outside.
It wasn't long before McClintock removed his jacket and members of the audience on both sides of the political aisle tried to keep cool by fanning themselves with their signs. The economy and natural resources were both hot topics of the evening.
Nikki Visser grew up in Jackson. She wore a red, "Make America Great Again" hat and a pink Trump T-shirt.
"We've lost our saw mills, the cedar mill, our gold mining and our biomass plants are shutting down," she says.
McClintock has long supported thinning forests.
"Your average acre in the Sierra can support 20-to-100 trees depending on the topography," he says. "The average density in the Sierra today is 266 trees per acre."
Health care was also the subject of many questions. Terry Garcia is a nurse, but not a McClintock supporter and inquired about the rising costs of medication.
"The pharmaceutical companies who can take an EpiPen, which costs $2 to make and charge people thousands of dollars," Garcia says. "I don't know what the answer to this is and I'm wondering what your thoughts are."
McClintock says low taxes and a free marketplace will make health care more affordable.
"You explain to me the logic of placing a steep excise tax on medical devices that are there to improve people's lives and improve their health care," McClintock says. "That's what Obamacare did."
There were some brief interruptions of audience questions by people with opposing viewpoints, but they were over quickly. In the end, most appreciated the calm nature of the event, if not the answers that were given. Duane Cornell is a McClintock detractor.
"Really, there weren't that many great questions that were asked. There were a few, but the questions were a little bit deluded, and so the answers were rambling and not very satisfying," Cornell says.
DiAnne Lawley is a McClintock supporter. She was not impressed by the signs and costumes worn by some of the people on the other side of the gym.
"To me, when they start waving their "lies, lies" (signs) ... how do you know? Educate yourself. Learn a little bit about what's going on," Lawley says.
After, McClintock said that last week's shooting of some of his colleagues brought both sides of the political aisle closer together.
"The reason why I do these town halls and have for the nine years I've served in Congress is to listen. That doesn't mean I agree with everybody. It means to listen to everybody and then use that best judgment and take that back to the people that I work for and represent the fourth district and let them judge whether I'm making good decisions or not," McClintock says.
People may not have had their opinions changed, but several were thankful for the relative calm.
Three people who have signed up to run against McClintock next year also attended the event.
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