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Tom Suozzi Town Hall Calmer Than Nationwide Forums

February 28, 2017

By: 

Laura Figueroa and Paul LaRocco
Newsday

Two Long Island congressmen confronted questions from their constituents Thursday — one via teleconference and one at a crowded community center — in a pair of town hall events that were far less combative than the fiery forums that lawmakers in other parts of the country have faced recently.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), elected in November, took 50 questions from constituents for more than two hours at a forum held at the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview. He told more than 300 attendees that they had to turn their furor with Trump into efforts to influence elections at every level, down to towns and counties.

“God forbid this energy dissipates,” Suozzi said. “You have to be organized.”

Suozzi has spent his first weeks in office touting efforts to work on issues in a bipartisan fashion. But Thursday, he repeatedly highlighted his strongest objections to Trump and Republicans, including the planned repeal of Obamacare, Trump’s ties to Russia, his potential conflicts of interest and refusal to release his taxes.

The town hall featured almost no confrontation. Suozzi polled the crowd as to their affiliations, and most appeared to be with progressive groups such as MoveOn and Indivisible.

Some Republicans complained this week that Suozzi organized and promoted the event through his campaign, not his government office, to attract the largely favorable crowd. Suozzi, whose office said he was on Facebook Live with about 6,700 people, said the crowd was the byproduct of progressives reacting with fear to proposals of the first all-Republican leadership in more than a decade.

“The blessing,” Suozzi said, “is that so many people are active and engaged.”