Rep. Kevin Yoder hosted an open house Monday at his Overland Park office that shortly after its 3:30 p.m. start had a line stretching out the door with many concerned about the early direction of the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“I feel like it’s not an option to watch from the sidelines anymore,” said Karen Montemayor of Olathe, one of those meeting Yoder. “I want to find a way that I can be a role model for my child and stand up for what’s right, respecting all people and women.”
The event at his office at 7325 W. 79th St. was described as a chance for Yoder to visit with constituents over coffee about the top issues facing Congress.
By 3:20, the foyer and inner office was filled with over 60 people and within 15 minutes, the line stretched out the door with at least 40 more. Two Overland Park police were on hand to observe, but the crowd was patient and orderly as they awaited their turn.
Yoder did not deliver any remarks, but greeted each person as they made their way to the head of the line. A staffer stood nearby to take the contact information from anyone seeking his assistance on a specific need.
“We have huge crowds usually at the end of the year,” said Cate Duerst, an aide to Yoder.
For the most part, it was a chance for people to voice their concerns about what they’re seeing in Washington in the two weeks since Trump was elected. Yoder stood by his endorsement of Trump throughout the campaign.
Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, an ultra-conservative figure, to be a top advisor, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama senator who’s appointment to the federal court was blocked in the 1980s for alleged racist comments, was at the top of some minds.
“I oppose Bannon as chief strategist,” said Wendy Mueller of Lenexa. “We’re at a time in our nation when we need a voice and face for unity and Bannon is not that person.”
Mueller also was one of several who supported the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
“I fear the Trump Administration will try to dismantle the ACA and that would affect my child,” she said.
Barbara Holzmark of Leawood has been a Republican precinct woman since 1991, but said Sessions and Bannon were not “true Republicans.”
“They don’t respect all people,” she said. “I’m Jewish and they don’t respect what I do.”
Kansas Sen. Barbara Bollier joined the line to talk about her concerns a Trump administration could threaten public schools.
“I want to let him know that school funding should not be driven in the public sector,” she said. “President-elect Trump is leaning toward vouchers and privatization of schools.”
Cindy White of Lenexa said she came to be a more responsible, informed citizen and learn what was on Yoder’s mind.
“I also wanted to speak up against some of the initial things in Washington,” she said. “I’m opposed to the appointment of Bannon and support the Affordable Care Act. It needs to be fixed, not repealed.”