Town Hall meetings “in” this year

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney helps Angelica, a sixth-grader, formulate a question at a May 13 Town Hall Meeting at Cornwall Central Middle School.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney helps Angelica, a sixth-grader, formulate a question at a May 13 Town Hall Meeting at Cornwall Central Middle School.

Lots of constituents want to “speak with Sean” these days. Congressman Maloney has been drawing hundreds of people to his Town Hall meetings. The turnout in Cornwall was smaller on May 13, but the event was arranged on a day’s notice.

About 80 people came to the middle school auditorium on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Some traveled a distance to be there, and others have followed the Congressman from one Town Hall meeting to another. Although the session lasted a half hour longer than scheduled almost everyone stayed until the end. Mr. Maloney seemed surprised. “You guys are free to leave whenever you want,” he told the audience.

The guests weren’t bashful about asking questions. Many of them wanted opinions on health care reform or the firing of the FBI Director. But some people inquired about local issues.

When Brian Hunt mentioned a lack of service and direct flights at Stewart, the Congressman was sympathetic. “You’re talking to a guy,” he said, “who flies to Washington, D.C. twice a week.”

Mr. Maloney was optimistic. “I do think you’re going to see some progress,” he said — citing, for example, the millions of international shoppers who visit Woodbury Common every year.

“Stewart needs rebranding,” Mr. Maloney continued. “I would call it JFK North… You know from midtown Manhattan to Stewart is not much more of a trip than from midtown to JFK.”

Mr. Maloney does not believe the bid to add anchorages to the Hudson River will be successful. And he has favored the closing of Entergy’s nuclear power plant at Indian Point — even if it causes a temporary reliance on more traditional energy sources.

He stated his position after a member of the Green Party spoke from the rear of the auditorium. “We don’t need to build more power plants,” the man said. “They’re making people sick and contributing to climate change.”

The Congressman remained civil when the gentleman predicted that the Green Party would nominate someone to oppose him. “It’s a democracy,” Mr. Maloney said, “go for it.”

Jordan Bell, a Cornwall 12th-grader, praised the guest speaker. “I’ve enjoyed listening to you,” the teenager said. “I compliment you for reaching out to the other side.”

Jordan, who will be attending American University in Washington, D.C, asked about the high cost of college, and almost landed an internship in the Congressman’s office — except that Jordan is already working for Sen. Bill Larkin.

When Rep. Maloney heard the senator’s name, he shook his head and smiled. “That guy is always two steps ahead of me,” he said.

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Editorial Staff