Congressman Molinaro Holds Town Hall In Norwich
Published: February 16th, 2023
By: Sarah Genter

Congressman Molinaro holds town hall in Norwich Congressman Marc Molinaro addressing Chenango County residents that attended his town hall meeting on Tuesday, February 14. Molinaro is aiming to hold town hall meetings in all 11 counties in the 19th Congressional District, and return in the future to make the meetings a regular occurrence. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — Congressman Marcus Molinaro visited the City of Norwich on Tuesday for a town hall meeting to introduce himself and hear the questions, concerns, and comments of Chenango County residents.

A lifelong politician, Molinaro was elected to the Village of Tivoli Board of Trustees. At 19, he won the election for mayor in Tivoli, and was re-elected another five times, serving a total of 12 years, and concurrently served as a Dutchess County Legislator for four terms.

Over the years, Molinaro went on to represent the 103rd District in the New York State Assembly, serve as a Dutchess County Executive, and in November 2022 was elected to serve New York State's 19th Congressional District.

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In 2023, he plans to visit all 11 counties in his district to hold town hall meetings, and in the future make them a regular occurrence.

During the meeting, he outlined his three core beliefs of working in local government.

"Number one: In local government, when the roof leaks, it leaks on republicans and democrats, and the job of local government is to fix the roof. That’s it," said Molinaro. "We can debate on how we want to fix the roof, we can blame somebody else for why the roof is leaking, but the job of local government is to fix the roofs and repair the sidewalks, and make sure that the snow gets plowed. These are the fundamental jobs of local government."

"Number two: When you serve in local government you can try to lie to people, but they’re going to figure it out pretty quickly," he continued. "Number three: In order to do your job well you have to be among the people you serve."

The floor was also opened to attending Chenango County residents, who asked questions on Molinaro's stance and plans on topics including the 2023 Farm Bill, IRS auditing, mass shootings, chip manufacturing, social security and Medicare, infrastructure, support for disability services, and the debt ceiling.

Citing food security as national security, Molinaro addressed the agricultural needs of Upstate New York. Namely, fertile land being developed for uses other than farming and the lack of large purchasers who are limited in what they can buy locally.

"New York upstate farms are uniquely behind, if you will, because of state policy, which is important, and then outward pressure for development of land," he said. "So valuable land is either being subdivided for housing, or the challenge of using fertile land for solar or wind, which is all worthy efforts, but taking up and gobbling up a lot of very valuable, high quality soils."

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"We’re shrinking the amount of acres that are used for active farming in New York, which is an issue."

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Molinaro said he was committed to actively working to solve these problems, as well as opening up New York farms to large, local purchasers.

"Because of state law and some federal regulations, school districts, hospitals, major employers, corrections facilities, where they buy huge sums of product, are unable or limited in what they can purchase locally," Molinaro continued. "My priority on the Ag Committee is New York farms and leveling the playing field, which means opening up markets in Canada and purchasers here. We’re at a disadvantage because Canada, we’re at war, basically, over dairy sales. And so we need to open up Canada for dairy products, and we’ll also need to open up local, large purchasers — hospitals, schools, governments — to New York products. Very important we create a stream of revenue."

City of Norwich Alderwoman Nancy Allaire asked the congressman about his stance on gun control, citing Monday's mass shooting at Michigan State University that killed three and wounded five. Allaire said the shooting was the 67th in the United States in 2023 alone.

"Yes, I support the second amendment. I do. But what I will also tell you is as a father, as a local official, as a federal official, I also take very seriously trying to understand why and how we have these incidents erupt," said Molinaro.

The solution, he said, is recognizing signs of trauma and mental illness, and intervening before an individual has the chance to commit an act of violence against themselves or others, as well as ensuring background checks are effective, and that all gun crimes are fully prosecuted.

"Being mentally ill is not a crime, but being mentally ill can lead one to take action against themselves or others. We have to be more sensitive, and we have to be able to intervene with the right tools, and I believe we can move the needle there," Molinaro said.

"We ought to be sure that background checks are effective. We have to be sure that if crimes are being committed with a gun, they’re being prosecuted," he added. "60 percent of gun-related crimes in New York are plead down to non-gun related offenses. If we’re serious about ensuring people who use a weapon to commit a crime, we’re serious about cracking down on that, there should be no tolerance, period."

For those who weren't able to make it to the meeting or ask their question, Molinaro encourages constituents to reach out via social media, email, or by phone.

"I'm happy to have that kind of dialogue. Please reach out in the email, please call us, please send your letters. Please both be critical and patient, but always to the extent we can be to one another, be respectful," said Molinaro.

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"It's been my pleasure to be here with you," he added. "I'm very honored to be your representative."