FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2017
Contact: Liuba Grechen Shirley
New York’s 2nd District Democrats
Frustrated Long Island Constituents Hold Public Town Hall Meeting for Rep. Peter King, King Refused to Attend
May 7, 2017, Amityville, NY – Just days after Rep. Peter King (NY-2) voted “yes” to pass Donald Trump’s replacement to the Affordable Care Act, frustrated residents of King’s Long Island district held a public Women’s Town Hall meeting to discuss healthcare, immigration, paid family leave, violence against women, the environment, and other issues concerning constituents. King did not show up. He has not appeared at a public Town Hall meeting for constituents for over twelve years and did not respond to invitations to attend the May 7th event organized by New York’s 2nd District Democrats, National Organization for Women NY (NOW NY), Action Together Long Island (ALTI), The Long Island Progressive Coalition, Sisters of St. Joseph, The Long Island Civic Engagement Table, Long Island Activists, Together We Will-LI, and Nassau NOW.
As members of congress return home this week for recess, many have met or will meet with constituents in public meetings to address questions about the American Health Care Act, the Trump agenda, and other issues. King’s staunch refusal to attend an open, public meeting with his Long Island constituents spurred the groups to action. “Rep. King refuses to do his job and meet with his constituents,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley, founder of NY’s 2nd District Democrats. “King has disparaged public participation claiming that a Town Hall, where citizens can speak without censorship, will diminish democracy. I have news for Peter King. THIS is what democracy looks like.”
“This Women’s Town Hall was organized as a response to the growing frustration of the community to Rep. King’s refusal to participate in a public forum. It is not justifiable that in our democracy a representative can refuse to participate in this critical aspect of public service; to answer the questions and concerns of the community for which he works,” said Julia Fenster, chief organizer ATLI and Nassau NOW co-president.
After countless requests from Long Islanders for a public Town Hall meeting King held his first public event of any type for over a decade in the form of a tele-Town Hall in March, a forum which permitted King to screen participants and disproportionally select men over women by a ratio or 4 to 1. “You don’t select nearly four times as many men as women by accident. That is why we are holding a Women’s Town Hall - to give King’s constituents a voice, to give women the opportunity to ask questions about how Donald Trump’s agenda affects our lives personally,” said Grechen Shirley. “We are bringing together the women of the 2nd district community who have been methodically shut out from being heard by Peter King on issues impacting their health, their families, and their communities,” said Fenster. “Peter King’s old-school misogyny and dismissal of women’s issues is manifested in both his behavior and his voting record. He has voted against equal pay for women, against paid family leave, and for this abominable healthcare bill which strips healthcare protections from women, the elderly, the sick, our most vulnerable citizens,” said Grechen Shirley. “We aim to hold him accountable.”
“The women of Representative King's district deserve answers. We want to know how he can vote with a clear conscience to destroy our access to healthcare, defund our health clinics, and block equitable workplaces. Representative King has supported Trump's immigration bans that are further marginalizing immigrant women who face violence and abuse, and he has voted for a healthcare plan that could deny coverage for so-called pre-existing conditions. What we want is simple - we want affordable healthcare for ourselves and our families, we want health insurance that covers all of our healthcare needs, and we want freedom from discrimination and violence. If our representatives won't support these basic needs, then we won't support them," said Sonia Ossorio, President, NOW New York.
The meeting included featured speakers to discuss issues affecting Long Island. NY Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre spoke on education, Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NY spoke about violence against women and Beth Fiteni of Green Inside and Out spoke about the environment. The impact of Trump’s healthcare bill was outlined by Katie Twomey, a social worker from the 2nd district. Grechen Shirley spoke about paid family leave.
“What Peter King fails to understand is that in a democracy he represents, and has a responsibility to ALL his constituents, women and men. Moreover, he needs to recognize that women’s issues affect everyone,” said Grechen Shirley. Event co-sponsors, the Sisters of St. Joseph agreed stating, “The Sisters of St. Joseph have reaffirmed our commitment to women’s issues. Believing that we are all equal as created by God, we are committed to respect the dignity of all. Since women and girls do not enjoy this equality, we will strive to secure their empowerment by education, by advocacy and by providing opportunities for them to develop their gifts and make their voices heard. We continue to advocate for women’s issues including healthcare, education, equal pay, paid family leave, and the rights of immigrant women.”
New York’s 2nd District Democrats is a constituent-based group dedicated to reenergizing the Democratic base, mobilizing district two residents, and ensuring that President Trump’s election is the spark that ignites the strongest, most unified social justice movement our country has ever seen.
The National Organization for Women New York advocates for women and girls across our state by working to defend reproductive rights, fight economic inequality, and end discrimination and violence against women.
Action Together Long Island (ATLI) is a grassroots organization that empowers, educates and engages democrats in community social action and civic engagement for the purpose of securing progressive values and leadership on Long Island.