The Chamber of Southwest Florida hosted U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-FL, Wednesday in Fort Myers.
Before he spoke, Rooney reflected on earlier interactions with constituents in Florida's 19th Congressional district.
His first town hall concerned the Okeechobee watershed and Everglades restoration. Rooney said that one went well, unlike the following two, which were about Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. Those, he said, were contentious.
"So, what I said to them was 'I am for defunding Planned Parenthood,'" said Rooney. "Now, I can answer it once or ten times. It doesn't matter. It's always going to be the same answer."
During the chamber lunch, the congressman answered attendees questions written on index cards. The questions ranged from college debt in Florida to partisanship in Washington, D.C..
Regarding college debt, Rooney said ideally the cost of tuition should be lowered. But in the interim, he said there should be "more flexible ways" for recent grads to pay back debt while they work.
That resonated with local realtor Cynthia Shafer.
"As a realtor, we're very aware of the college tuition and how high it is and how we can fight for the rights of students in either lowering it or helping them find a way to pay back in a longer period of time so they can buy a home or live within their means," said Shafer.
The congressman said his biggest disappointment so far has been Republicans failing to repeal Obamacare.
"Well, for some people it was too conservative and for some people it wasn't conservative enough," said Rooney. "I thought it was as conservative as we're going to get and have a chance at getting enough votes to pass that."
Shafer, the realtor, admited she does not remember if she voted for Francis Rooney. After all, southwest Florida is also represented by Tom Rooney in Congress. But, Shafer said it's nice to have a representative who is honest and who listens.