Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey holds town hall in Amherst

Amherst native, Barbara Bing offers personal opinion on Ed Markey's town hall meeting

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Massachusetts senator Ed Markey hosted a town hall at the Amherst-Pelham Regional middle school on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to a full auditorium of Massachusetts residents and activists.

After a performance by the Amherst Regional Gospel Choir and the Amherst-Pelham  Regional Middle School choir and brief statements from the Amherst-Pelham School District superintendent and Massachusetts State Senator Stan Rosenberg, Senator Markey, a Democrat, outlined his position on multiple key issues before taking questions from the audience.

“There are so many issues in the Trump era,” said Markey, before he gave a summary of his positions on some of the larger issues today, like climate change and immigration.

Barbara Bing from Amherst said that she was concerned with “all the issues because Trump is such a disaster.”

Markey began by addressing climate change, saying that the clean energy sector would be a “revolution for blue-collar work.” He stated that President Trump’s plan to revive the coal industry would only result in a fraction of the jobs created by wind and solar power industries. Markey also condemned the tariff on importing solar panels imposed by the Trump administration.

“The EPA stands for Every Polluter’s Ally now,” Markey said, to loud applause from the audience.

Markey also addressed the opioid crisis, which he called “the plague of our time,” and called for funding for addicts. He also condemned the policies implemented during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, which saw what Markey described as a “whole generation of black men incarcerated.”

Net neutrality was another issue which Markey gave ample attention to, and he explained to the audience the legislation he had written to overturn the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality.

Perhaps the most discussed issue of the night was surrounding immigration, including DACA and the proposed border wall. Markey stated his resistance to voting for any federal budget which did not include funding for a Dream Act. This comes after Markey was one of just 18 senators not to vote for the continuing resolution that funds the government through Feb. 8, but does not contain funding for the Dream Act. Markey echoed the word of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by saying that he would not vote for any budget which did not contain funding for the Dream Act.

Markey also talked about the history of activism and revolution in Western Massachusetts, citing the suffragist movement, the freedom riders, the anti-nuclear weapons movement and currently, the fight for DACA.

“We are not just the bay state, we are the brain state,” Markey said when talking about the history of resistance and social change in Massachusetts.

Following Senator Markey’s statements, audience members got a chance to ask the senator questions about issues important to them. Many of the audience’s questions were regarding immigration but the senator also addressed questions regarding, North Korea, Syria and Puerto Rico.

Graham Gordon from South Hadley said that he was most concerned with Markey’s plans for DACA and the border.

“The most important issue to me was immigration,” Gordon said.

The same went for Clare Overlander from Gardner, Massachusetts, who said she was at the town hall to support Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan immigrant who has found sanctuary in an Amherst church to avoid deportation. Markey met with Perez prior to the town hall.

Overlander said she was “satisfied” with Senator Markey and found him “very well spoken.”

Barbara Bing also said she was satisfied with the work Senator Markey has done.

“I stand with him on most, if not all, issues,” said Bing.

Mack Cooper can be reached at [email protected]

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