New Jersey Governor Chris Christie arrived to his second town hall at the YMCA in Mt. Laurel on Thursday to thunderous applause and cheers.
However, not everyone in the crowd was cheering.
A group of at least six students from Rowan University were on hand in hopes of asking Christie tough questions about the Fort Lee bridge scandal, Hurricane Sandy relief, government spending and other topics.
When Christie chose not to call on any members of the group, they took matters into their own hands.
“Governor Christie,” was a yell constantly interrupting to question and answer portion of the town hall, drawing jeers and boos from the room and eventually catching of the Governor himself. After trying to ignore the jeers and continue on with the town hall, Christie finally took notice.
“Either sit down, shut up or get out,” Christie said.
In all, six Rowan students were eventually ejected after disrupting the meeting at various points. However, they felt as though they had no other choice if they wanted their voice to be heard.
“I want him to be able to answer the questions everyone seems to want to ask,” said Leah Ly, a 21-year-old senior.
The group of students said they were not affiliated with any on-campus organization or a political party. However, they felt they were standing up for other college-aged people like themselves.
“I don’t really think Christie wants to hear the voice of young people,” Ly said. “All of us just stand together. We’re a voice of the students.”
Sophomore Patrick Oehme said the time and setting of the town hall meetings doesn’t give a true representation of how the public feels.
We know he intentionally holds these town hall meetings in Republican majority towns,” Oehme said. “He never gets heat during these meetings because they are during the week, so working class people can’t attend these meetings. He basically holds these meetings at times only his supporters can come to them.”
Outside of the shouts coming from the Rowan group, Christie was well supported by the crowd. He spent much of his opening remarks addressing property taxes and the progress the state has made in lowering those costs.
“Before I became governor, our property taxes were at seven percent,” Christie said. “Seniors were being driven out of their homes.”
While Christie acknowledged the state government’s ability to now control taxes, he warned residents in attendance the state would be facing a financial crisis with the escalating costs of pensions and healthcare. He said 94 percent of the new revenue in the state’s budget goes strictly to healthcare, pensions and debt service.
When he wasn’t being interrupted during the question and answer session, Christie addressed questions from the crowd including school aid funding, rehabilitation for non-violent drug users and gun control. Topics mention by Ly and Oehme such as the Ft. Lee bridge scandal or Hurricane Sandy relief were not addressed.
Christie used the protestors as an example of what he is trying to eliminate in politics. He said the yelling of the students in attendance is part of the problems government has today.
“We need to convince our government to work together,” Christie said. “We need to start listening more to each other. Let’s stop arguing.”