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Rep. Maloney Answers Questions At Student Town Hall

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney held a student town hall in his hometown Monday. Some 40 high school students packed a classroom on their lunch break and asked a variety of questions on topics ranging from current events to holding political office in general.

The 18th District Democrat took a number of questions from the mainly seniors at Haldane High School in Cold Spring for 45 minutes, including about the impacts of the partial federal government shutdown, the environment, LGBTQ legislation, a day in the life of a congressional representative and running for re-election. One student asked what Maloney sees as the primary responsibilities of the younger generation in politics. Maloney answered with another question, saying, “What do you think?” He then answered that what young people do really well is not settle for the status quo.

“Well, you heard one of the kids ask what can young people do. And it’s such a great question because it’s so often young people who look at the world and say, it doesn’t need to be this way. And I think when we get a little older we tend to think nothing can ever change,” Maloney says. “And it’s kids that say, wait, we can do something about the climate; we can do something about school shootings; we can do something about civil rights. And it’s exciting for me to hear from them.”

Senior Morgan Etta was interested in Maloney’s answers to questions about the shutdown and what his days are like on the job.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool that he cares that much about just young people,” Olsen says. “We can’t even vote yet, so some of the people, the juniors won’t even be able to vote when he runs again so it’s kind of cool that he’s so interested in the people at our school.”

To be clear, Maloney, who was re-elected to a fourth term, has not yet announced his plans for 2020. Olivia Olsen had the chance to pose a question.

“I asked a question about incumbency and how that, because I think it’s really interesting how, obviously there’s such advantages for people who have already been in the office, and I think it’s just really interesting the whole election cycle and stuff,” Olsen says.

“So how did he answer and what did you think of the answer?” Dunne asks.

“Well, he was running out of time so he answered really quickly but he basically just said, yes, there’s a huge advantage and I think it’s present on both sides; it’s present in every state. It makes sense why there’s an advantage,” says Olsen.

Honor O’Malley also squeezed in a question.

“I asked him about how he focuses his attention on different issues because, I mean, especially in the political climate right now, there’s just so many things going on. So it’s just, it’s interesting to me that, of course, each person will have their own personal passions and what they want to focus on for themselves but then having to represent their people and all that,” O’Malley says. “It just, how does he balance figuring out which issues to focus on because there’s so many things to consider all at once.”

“What did you think of his answer?” asks Dunne.

“Honestly, he gave a quick answer because he was running out of time but, I guess, the best thing I thought he said was just representing his people, but, of course, he said, personally, he wants to represent the LGBT community, which, I think, is really important but then he also has to consider his district and what his people want of him. So being able to balance that, I think, is a really good thing that he does as a representative.”

Time did not, however, allow for Catriona Fee’s question.

“One of the questions that I was thinking about asking was answered by another student’s question and that was does Representative Maloney support terms limits for members of Congress. And he answered that in a question regarding how he would reform Congress. So that was really good,” Fee says. “I was really glad I got that answer because I think it’s very important to reduce corruption and maximize efficiency of our government.”

Freya Wood-Gallagher asked Maloney whether he hears about something for the first time via President Donald Trump’s tweets. Maloney said he doesn’t think tweeting in the political arena is weird, but believes some of Trump’s tweets are weird. Wood-Gallagher, whose father is a former Cold Spring mayor, responds to what she thought of Maloney’s full answer.

“I thought it was interesting because I’d never thought of Twitter as the new version of just a public announcement of something,” Wood-Gallagher says. “It seems very normal to him. He was saying, well yeah, of course that we learn stuff from his Twitter. It’s just that when his senior advisors, the president’s advisors learn stuff from his Twitter, that’s when it get’s messy.”

One of the students who did not ask a question was Maloney’s daughter, seated in the back row.

“Well, I’m glad she’s here. When you have teenage daughters you never know whether they’re going to want to listen to you talk or not. So I’d consider that a success,” says Maloney. “But, kidding aside, my daughter Daley’s actually very involved in politics at the school. She was one of the leaders in the walkout movement after Parkland and takes a real interest in politics. I have no idea where she gets that from.”

After the student town hall, Maloney headed across the Hudson River to Orange County to host his inaugural Seniors Advisory Board meeting in Walkill. The advisory board consists of local experts who focus on issues impacting older Americans, including adult care, nursing home conditions; concerns about fraud and scams; and Medicare and Social Security.

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