By Chris Thomsen SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Citizens in the 24th Congressional District of New York had a chance to voice their thoughts about the Republican Party’s efforts on tax reform at the “Tax Talk Town Hall” on Tuesday night.
The event filled the Common Councilors’ Chambers on the second floor of Syracuse City Hall. And while some opinions were angrier and louder than others, the crowd had a clear consensus: they didn’t want the Senate or House versions of the bills to pass.
“I don’t like either version, the House or the Senate,” Mary Jane Lucas, a Syracuse resident, said. “I think this is being railroaded through – and they’re kitchen sinking it!”
The event was intended for the district’s residents. But the small number of public officials that came, including Common Councilor President Helen Hudson, agreed with their outraged constituents.
”The broad strokes of this tax bill is that they are funding a huge giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest among us,” District 5 Common Councilor-Elect Joe Driscoll said. “[The bill removes] the estate tax and removes some of the legislation on hedge funds.”
Outgoing Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner organized the event following Congressman John Katko’s decision to vote “yes” on the House’s tax bill. Katko was specifically invited by Miner to the event, but he declined.
The crowd noticed. Some made signs that included phrases such as, “Where R U Katko” (sic), “Shame on Katko,” and an edited image of Katko’s face on Waldo (of “Where’s Waldo” fame) with a simple caption: “Where’s Katko?”
But Katko did release a statement concerning the town hall. He accused Miner of holding this event to spark a potential Congressional campaign against himself, the Republican incumbent.
“If Stephanie Miner wants to run against me because I want to cut taxes for the vast majority of my constituents, then her priorities are even more out of place than I suspected,” Katko said. “I welcome the opportunity to discuss the economic malaise and stunning rate of local poverty she’s leaving behind in the city of Syracuse.”
Miner avoided any and all talk about the 2018 midterm elections. But in her opening remarks, she highlighted the importance of standing up and taking action during troubling times.
“If we allow our representatives to not discuss these ideas with us, to take these votes at the last minute, to not stand up and defend these votes, then we ourselves are implicated in the demise of our democracy,” Miner said.