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Flake Faces Raucous Opposition At Mesa Town Hall

Senator Jeff Flake
(Photo by Jimmy Jenkins - KJZZ)
Sen. Jeff Flake listens to constituents at a town hall event in Mesa.

An hour before the doors opened, a large group of constituents waited outside the Mesa Convention center Thursday evening.

Ron Bernstein of Scottsdale was first in line. His main concern was healthcare. "I think that there should be Medicare expansion for all," Berstein said. "I think healthcare ought to be a basic right.”

Like many in attendance, Rita Healey of Scottsdale was concerned with Flake’s legislation that repealed FCC broadband privacy rules. "I just really want to get an explanation of what he thought he was doing to help Americans by sponsoring such a bill," Healey said.

Before Flake even took the stage the recurring theme of Health Care concerns echoed through the auditorium. The Mesa Convention center was standing room only Thursday evening as people gathered to give the Senator a piece of their mind.

Flake faced a feisty crowd chanting “no stupid wall” and a taunting teenager in a chicken suit. Through criticism of everything from his support of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to his opposition of Planned Parenthood, Senator Flake kept his composure and weathered the sporadic storms of boos that followed some of his blunt responses.

“I will continue to support as much as I can our free market system of healthcare," Flake said in response to one of many health care questions. "I'm not in favor of single payer."

For three hours Flake took a beating from both sides of the aisle. At one point, a republican approached the microphone.  "I apologize I’m a little bit hoarse from booing you," the man said to roars of laughter from the crowd.

By 10:00 p.m. the janitors were turning the lights off but Flake was still talking with a group of voters. One man said he opposed everything Flake had done, but he respected him for addressing the crowd.

Marciopa resident Bruce Ratcliff looked dismayed as he left the town hall. “I don’t think he gets it," Ratcliff said. "He doesn’t seem to have a mind of his own or have any any interest in listening to what constituents want.”

Ratcliff said Senator Flake will hear from him loud and clear on election day in 2018.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.