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Published August 01, 2013, 09:10 PM

Heitkamp answers tweets during an online town hall

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- She may be at the U.S. Capitol today, but that did not stop Senator Heidi Heitkamp from hosting a town hall with North Dakotans this morning.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- She may be at the U.S. Capitol today, but that did not stop Senator Heidi Heitkamp from hosting a town hall with North Dakotans this morning.

Heitkamp took advantage of social media to connect with constituents in her first Twitter Town Hall. For the first time, a North Dakota Senator took to the Internet for a live, virtual town hall.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp sat down to take questions on Twitter… users submitted them using #AskHeidiH.

Heitkamp: "This is an amazing opportunity to reach out to people who otherwise would not have an opportunity to have input on public policy."

The focus of this town hall was education. About 30 people sent in questions. Some Tweeted about issues like the Keystone pipeline and gun violence, but Heitkamp stuck to education-related topics.

One user asked how Heitkamp plans to help students with learning disabilities.

Heitkamp said we need to increase, not decrease funding for those programs.

Another wondered how she feels about a voucher system for public schools.

Heitkamp responded that students deserve individualized education, but public school funding should be protected and increased.

One way this town hall was a little different than your typical town hall is that Senator Heitkamp only had 140 characters to answer the questions.

Twitter analyst tool TweetReach estimates the Town Hall reached about 17-thousand accounts. And Heitkamp says it doesn't end here - she plans to host several more Twitter Town Hall meetings on a variety of issues.

Heitkamp: "It gives me an opportunity and I think as we do more of these, we're going to see even greater participation, so I'm really excited about this process."

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