Tester Tackles Tough Questions in Billings at 5th In-Person Town Hall of the Year

Senator responds to constituents, solicits feedback from group of more than 150 people in face-to-face public forum

U.S. Senator Jon Tester yesterday took questions, comments, and feedback from a group of more than 150 Billings-area constituents at his 5th public, in-person town hall of the year.

“When you come to a town hall like this one, you’re holding your representatives accountable—there are no questions you can’t ask and no doors to hide behind,” Tester said. “In order to do this job you’ve got to listen to the folks you represent, whether they agree with you or not. It’s the only way you can find out what’s working and what isn’t and bring that information back to Washington.”

Tester heard from constituents on issues including climate change, protecting public lands, making sure we do right by our veterans, dark money in our elections, civic engagement, and breaking the gridlock in Congress.

Responding to a question about the mental health crisis in rural America and his Seeding Rural Resilience Act, Tester said, “If we could [get more mental health professionals in rural America] and then reduce the stigma around mental health so that people understand that if they’ve got a problem, it’s not something that can’t be fixed… then I think we’re well on our way to solving the problem. But right now there is such a stigma attached to mental illness that folks don’t want to admit it… And so we need more professionals on the ground and we need to have people—family members, friends, be able to see when a person is in crisis so they can help. And that’s hard but it’s got to happen.”

This is Tester’s fifth in-person, public town hall this year—following forums in Bozeman, Missoula, Helena, and Great Falls—and his twelfth since President Trump took office. He has held dozens of Facebook Live town halls and public forums since 2016, ranging on topics from health care reform to Farm Bill reauthorization, VA community care, the ongoing trade war, and local infrastructure priorities across Montana.