With signs in hand a small group of demonstrators greeted candidates, supporters and voters outside the Gulfport Casino Ballroom Thursday night.
Gulfport resident Faun Weaver came out to display her disappointment with Rep. C.W. Bill Young's absence from recent debates, including the Meet the Candidates Forum in Gulfport.
As a lifelong voter, Weaver says she expects to hear from leaders vying for her vote. One of her signs read, "Not Rich Enough To Be Represented By My Representative."
Weaver says she wants to hear from Rep. Young and learn more about where he stands on the issues; small business, local economy, creating jobs. Weaver says Young has refused to participate in a debate in 25 years.
"He's completely out of touch. He's getting voted in by name recognition," she said.
Joseph White, of Gulfport, showed support for Democratic opponent Jessica Ehrlich and was excited to hear from her during the forum.
"We're about to hear her voice for the first time," White said.
White believes Young isn't doing enough to help small businesses and is "too busy" to listen to the voters.
White's message to the congressman, "Speak up, I voted for you 30 years ago. Tell us where you stand."
Rep. C. W. Bill Young was unable to attend the forum because the US House is in session and Young's schedule on Thursday included a House Republican Conference, Briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense staff briefing as late at 5 p.m.
Young's son, Billy, stood in his place at the forum and explained to guests that his father could not make it to the event in a timely manner and provided copies of the schedule to the audience. Organizers with the Gulfport Democratic Club and St. Petersburg Republican Club allowed representatives to participate, a first for forums in Gulfport.
Once the US House District 13 candidates were invited to the stage, Jessica Ehrlich introduced herself and respectfully removed herself from the forum in response to Rep. Young's absence.
Billy Young remained on stage, explained why his father could not be present and provided information about the representative.