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Jordan Cunningham holds meet-and-greet in San Luis Obispo

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham talks to constituents after an open house he held Thursday, February 23, 2017, at the Veterans Memorial Building in San Luis Obispo.
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham talks to constituents after an open house he held Thursday, February 23, 2017, at the Veterans Memorial Building in San Luis Obispo. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A packed house greeted state Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham at an open house Thursday evening at the Veterans Memorial Building in San Luis Obispo, with some in attendance asking pointed questions during an initial Q&A session.

Several boisterous attendees waved signs and protested federal policies spearheaded by President Donald Trump’s administration, but the overall event was mostly civil. Cunningham, a Republican, is two months into his first term representing the 35th District.

The crowd included District Attorney Dan Dow, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham (Jordan Cunningham’s father) and several former colleagues from his time as a deputy prosecutor. His predecessor, former assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, also attended, along with various law enforcement and government officials.

Cunningham spent the first part of the meet-and-greet fielding questions about his recently introduced bills, including Assembly Bill 457, which would create a commission to evaluate the feasibility of using Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s desalination facility to boost local water supplies.

He then moved around the room chatting individually with constituents, including Creston resident Ben Clark, who said he was familiar with Cunningham from interviewing him for a college newspaper during the campaign.

It seems like he works well with people on both sides (of the political aisle).

Creston resident Ben Clark

“I like the guy, and I like what he has to say a lot,” Clark said. “It seems like he works well with people on both sides (of the political aisle).”

Pozo resident Dylan Hade agreed and said it was more important than ever for California’s Republican lawmakers to work with Democrats — the majority party in the Legislature — to get anything accomplished.

“I tend to disagree with California politics,” he said. “But I think it’s important to bridge those gaps.”

Not everyone at the event supported Cunningham’s views. Cheryl Storton of Arroyo Grande said she attended as part of her city’s chapter of Indivisible, a grassroots progressive movement created after the presidential election to organize and connect activists nationwide to oppose Trump and Republican policies.

Indivisible activists have been most evident in recent town halls held by members of Congress during their legislative break. Large, raucous crowds have turned out nationwide to challenge Republican lawmakers.

Storton said she came to lobby Cunningham to vote yes on state Senate Bill 149, which would deny a presidential nominee from appearing on California ballots if the candidate hasn’t disclosed their tax returns for a five-year period before the election.

“That’s something he can do,” Storton said.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

Editor’s note: Several readers questioned our story on state Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s open house, noting that it didn’t reflect the fact that the crowd demanded he address the group and answer questions.

“I must ask — did you attend this event?” wrote Jennifer O’Brien.

The answer: Yes.

The event was billed as a district open house at Veterans Hall in San Luis Obispo from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. But a crowd arrived at 4:30 p.m., and after shouts of “Town Hall, Town Hall,” Cunningham jumped on the stage and answered questions.

Reporter Matt Fountain arrived about 5:15 p.m., after finishing a different story on deadline. By then, Cunningham was just wrapping up the Q&A, and the audience had begun thinning out.

Our story referenced the packed house, that some in the audience asked pointed questions, that several boisterous people waved signs and protested federal policies under the Trump administration. And Fountain interviewed and quoted both those who support and don’t support Cunningham’s views at the event.

After the Q&A, Cunningham “stayed until 7:15 and chatted with folks in small groups until the crowd dwindled,” according to Chris Finarelli, chief of staff for Cunningham.

Sandra Duerr, executive editor; sduerr@thetribunenews.com

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