“This Land is Your Land” and “God Bless America” rang from the mouths of Gainesville residents as they protested outside of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho’s office Tuesday afternoon.
Local residents, who are not affiliated with any local or national organization, attempt to meet biweekly outside of Yoho’s office during lunch hours and peacefully protest by holding up signs.
While serving his third term as congressman of North Central Florida's 3rd Congressional District, Sarah Walters, a 43-year-old Gainesville resident, said Yoho has not succeeded in representing his people and has conformed to the wishes of the Republican Party.
Walters said Yoho mentioned her by name at a town hall discussion in April, and he said he would sign on to sponsor the H.R.305 bill, which would release President Donald Trump’s tax returns, even though he initially did not agree with the bill.
“At first he didn’t support the release of Trump’s tax returns, but he talked with me ... and I had suggested a couple bills that maybe he could sign onto to help support the release of his taxes,” Walters said. “At the town hall, he said, ‘She changed my mind, I’m going to sign on as a sponsor to those bills.’”
Walters said she was happy to see the GOP congressman attempting to work with Gainesville residents who usually do not agree with him.
However, Walters said Yoho did not follow through with his public promise. She said Yoho refuses to sign onto the movement to bring the bill out of committee and onto the floor for consideration.
“How can they be okay with that?” Walters said. “If they support the release of Trump’s taxes, wouldn’t they want the bill to come to the floor?”
As someone who is new to the political world, Walters said she genuinely thought from her discussions with Yoho that they would be able to work together. She said she is disappointed to see that Yoho is just another politician who uses the media to get positive press but does not follow through on what he says.
The H.R.305 bill controversy was not the only issue residents were protesting. Protester Marcela Mulholland protested the American Health Care Act and budget cuts to science funding and climate change programs.
“I think it’s important to have the millennial perspective here also, to show the politicians that we’re paying attention,” said the 19-year-old UF political science and sustainability studies junior.
Olysha Magruder, a 38-year-old Gainesville resident and protester, said residents have been meeting up at Yoho’s office since the end of January. The protesters specifically target Yoho’s office since he is the closest representative.
“We just hang out for our lunch breaks, and we hold up our signs,” Magruder said.
Initially, protesters would stand inside the office and quietly hold their signs. However, they have since been prohibited from entering the office without having an appointment, Magruder said.
The office has claimed that protesters have threatened them and vandalism has occurred, Magruder said. She said none of the protesters she has been involved with would ever do something like that.
“Personally, I feel like it’s just a way to keep us out of their offices, because we are kind of annoying to them,” she said.
Contact Catie Wegman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter: @catie_wegman.