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Opponents to rally ahead of Ernst Iowa City town hall meeting Friday

Sen. Joni Ernst takes questions from reporters after a town hall at the Central Community School Auditorium in Elkader on Monday, April 10, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Sen. Joni Ernst takes questions from reporters after a town hall at the Central Community School Auditorium in Elkader on Monday, April 10, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s “bosses” plan to give her a piece of their mind Friday when the Iowa Republican has a town hall meeting at the University of Iowa.

“You claim you host town halls to listen and explain your positions, but really you parrot alt-right talking points and have no interest in hearing from the people you claim to represent,” reads an open letter to Ernst from Action Iowa, Indivisible Iowa, Hawkeyes for Dream Iowa, Iowa Action and Americans for Democratic Action Iowa.

“We are ready for your town hall; we plan to reclaim our time,” they wrote, identifying the groups “as your bosses.”

“Reclaim our time” is a reference to California Rep. Maxine Waters’ “reclaiming my time” comment when a Trump administration official rambled without answering the Democrat’s question.

The rally ahead of Ernst’s 2:30 p.m. town hall forum in the University of Iowa Memorial Union “will focus on communicating to Sen. Ernst that our community needs adequate health care, comprehensive immigration reform and affordable college tuition,” according to a post on Action Iowa’s Facebook page.

The rally is planned for 2 p.m. on the lawn of the UI Memorial Union, 125 N. Madison St. Ernst’s forum will be at 2:30 inside the IMU. The progressive groups plan another rally at 3:30 p.m. in Hubbard Park following the forum.

Rally speakers include: Adelaide Zwick on behalf of Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood; Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry; Emiliano Martinez of Hawkeyes for Dream Iowa; Iowa City Council candidate Ryan Hall; and Elizabeth Dinschel, a Coralville City Council candidate.


Dream Iowa will distribute letters written by students who are part of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — in hopes they are read during Ernst’s forum, according to Martinez, the group’s president and a UI student.

“Our goal is to put people back into this process and publicly lobby our issues by telling the stories behind the political rhetoric,” he said.

Ernst, a first-term Republican, does not support citizenship for Dreamers, but has called for compassion for the Dreamers and respect for immigration laws.

Several of Ernst’s town hall meetings have been characterized by shouting, chanting and disruptive behavior.

Martinez said Dreamers do not believe in disrupting forums.

“Our mission is to bring purpose and insight into bringing the issues of Iowa taxpayers to the forefront of the conversation,” he said.

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