After months of asking, members of the group One Pittsburgh finally had an in-person meeting with Republican Senator Pat Toomey. The coalition of community, faith, and labor groups, had been requesting such a meeting since August. The group went so far as to travel to Washington, DC in an effort get a meeting but it was repeatedly told the senator was unavailable.
Five members of One Pittsburgh met with the senator while a larger group protested what they dubbed his "support of the 1%". Maxine Wilson was one of the members who participated in the face-to-face meeting. The tiny wheelchair-bound woman asked the senator for his thoughts on the gap between the rich and the poor in this country. She said she was concerned about the growing difficulty of making ends meet and supporting her family. She asked the senator if he thinks it's a problem and said his answer was "no," because everyone has the same opportunities to advance themselves.
"Opportunities even take money," she said. "Anybody can get a job as long as McDonald's is hiring, but a good job, a better job, something that you can take care of your families with, that's a different story."
The group asked Senator Toomey about education, corporate tax loopholes, and joblessness, among other things. They also said they used graphs and charts to try to show him the growing wealth gap in this country. The group said they were thankful the meeting finally took place, but overall, they said they likely didn't change Toomey's mind on anything, though they didn't expect to.
"As far as Pat Toomey goes, I think the whole meeting was a very positive one. We got to see exactly who he was. He didn't surprise me at all. He was very stern, didn't even care to act like he cared about the 99%," said Pittsburgher Corey Buckner.
The group invited Toomey to join a press conference following the meeting, but he declined, saying he already speaks to the press. When asked by Essential Public Radio about the One Pittsburgh discussion, Toomey's office sent the following statement:
"Senator Toomey appreciates feedback from his constituents and hearing their concerns. It is for this reason that he travels across the state to hear their thoughts on the best way to create jobs and get our economy moving, including hosting jobs roundtables, town halls, and other public events across Pennsylvania."