Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Brindisi held a Town Hall event in Colgate’s Golden Auditorium on Sunday, April 8. The event was packed with a crowd of community members, professors and students and was hosted by the Colgate College Democrats, Town Democrats and Madison Chenango Call to Action.
Brindisi, who is from Utica, was elected to the New York State Assembly in a 2011 special election. He previously served on a school board in Utica and is an attorney.
The Wall Street Journal named him as one of the five “Young Guns” in the NY State Assembly in 2015. Brindisi is running against incumbent Republican Claudia Tenney to represent New York’s 22nd district in the House of Representatives. Tenney is a Colgate alumna from the Class of 1983.
Co-Vice President of College Democrats sophomore Max Baron described the decision to host the Town Hall, explaining that College Democrats reached out to the Brindisi campaign a few months ago. The campaign quickly agreed to come to Colgate.
“We chose to bring Brindisi to Colgate because our campus can and should be mobilized in support of a candidate who shares many of our students’ political views. Political activism for Democrats at Colgate has been lax for a few years now and we wanted to come back with an important and valuable experience in having Brindisi come to campus. Further, it is clear that Colgate alumna Claudia Tenney did not reflect the views of Colgate’s general public,” Baron said.
Brindisi’s plan for upstate New York includes cutting taxes for local families, improving health care and improving education. Brindisi has been outspoken in favor of public schools and has is endorsed by both U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Brindisi began the event by providing background and highlighting the significance of town hall events to him.
“Town halls to me are really what is the greatest thing about politics. As an elected representative I think the most important thing you can do is listen… If you’re not listening to folks first hand at town hall meetings in your community then I don’t think you can be an effective representative in Albany or down in Washington, D.C.,” Brindisi said.
He opened the floor to questions for the next hour and a half, engaging in conversation that ranged from national issues like gun control, immigration, foreign policy and tax reform to local issues, like what Brindisi plans to do to protect small family dairy farms in the community and how the upstate New York power grid affects the switch to renewable energy.
Steve Bartlett, a local dairy farmer, raised the issue of milk prices to Brindisi.
“If you knew what farmers were getting paid for their milk, you’d be hysterical when you go to the grocery store. We get 11 cents a pound for our milk… This happens daily and no one says a word,” Bartlett said.
Brindisi replied that he’s been learning a lot more about the milk price crisis and other agricultural issues in the region.
Colgate College Democrats President sophomore Jake Scott felt the event was successful.
“I was immensely pleased with the event itself. We had massive turnout from around the county, a solid media presence and a great assortment of volunteer-made baked goods. Further, the event ran incredibly smoothly, with a wide range of critically important national and local issues addressed. The questions that were asked spanned topics ranging from gun reform to taxes to campaign finance to agriculture to the opioid crisis,” Scott said.
Scott also commented on Brindisi’s competence.
“[Brindisi] showed a depth of knowledge on almost every issue, and was clearly willing to engage with constituents to learn about the issues he was less familiar with. Further, he was exceptional at constructing his responses such that they dealt with issues on both a national and local level,” Scott said.
Baron also felt positively about Brindisi in the Town Hall.
“I feel that Brindisi is a great candidate for this district. He proved to me today that he could seamlessly combine progressive ideals with the narrower goal of helping the upstate community. I think that Brindisi has forged a workable political path ahead and that his platform is well-suited to both the region he hopes to represent and the political environment today more generally. I could definitely see myself getting behind Brindisi in the months ahead as the election heats up,” Baron said.
Those who attended the Town Hall came from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs.
Tom Holmes, a resident of Norwich, identifies as a Republican. Holmes enjoyed the event.
“I’m distressed by what’s happening with our current representative, who is a Tea Party Republican. My question [today] was about the role of government, and a core value of the Tea Party is bad mouthing government. I think we need a different approach to things. So I was pleased to hear [Brindisi’s] comments on valuing public service and that the government can be used for doing good,” Holmes said.
Colgate student Christabel Yue Chan also felt positively about the event. She explained that she and three of her friends who attended are exchange students from Singapore here for the spring semester, they are interested and well-versed in American politics.
“Overall, I feel that Mr. Brindisi gave educated, compassionate and wise responses to a wide array of topics ranging from domestic issues in New York state, to issues of international relations and even philosophical questions about the principles of government. Mr. Brindisi did not promise or agree with what people asked of him right away, but was generally careful to give a balanced and educated response to the questions that were posed to him, for issues such as the border wall and legalizing marijuana,” Chan said.
Chan was also glad that he addressed gun control.
“The issue I am most passionate about is gun control, and I think that Mr. Brindisi gave a respectful and sensible view on gun control that acknowledges Americans’ second amendment rights but still aims to prevent guns falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Chan said.
Colgate’s Writer’s Conference Director Matt Leone was impressed by the discussion that went on in the Town Hall event.
“The Brindisi Town Hall event was one of the most instructive and informative conversations that I have experienced in quite some time. Anthony, as he insisted on being called by all, is generous of his opinions and knowledge of pertinent political issues,” Leone said. “He made it more than clear that he wished to become a member of Congress to address urgent issues, such as ceasing the cutting of taxes for the rich, the discarding of the Obama health care reforms, the building of the Wall, and much else. I came away, as I’m sure did most everyone, feeling lucky to have a chance to vote for him in November.”
The Maroon-News reached out to Tenney’s campaign as to whether or not she would host a similar event at Colgate.
“Anthony Brindisi didn’t have a town hall. He had a political rally sponsored by Democrats and the resist movement stocked with his liberal supporters. When he was asked point blank if he would ban semi-automatic rifles he refuses to answer even though he was just endorsed by a gun control group that wants to take our guns away,” responded Tenney’s campaign manager Raychel Renna.
The primary will take place on June 26, 2018.
Contact Sarah Anderson at [email protected]