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Gillibrand finds a friendly audience at Buffalo town hall meeting

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Around 600 people turned out on Thursday evening for a town hall meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Buffalo State's Rockwell Hall. The large audience appeared to agree with her on most issues.

"I stand for Medicare for all," said Gillibrand as she provided a campaign-style stump speech. 

"I stand for rewarding work in this country, which means raising the minimum wage to $15. Having a national pay week plan, having affordable day care, having universal pre-K, equal pay for equal work. I believe every child in this country should have an opportunity for affordable, good education in a public school and for college."

Women made up the majority of the audience. They responded positively as Gillibrand outlined her views on abortion.

"Why members of Congress believe that they should make decisions for women and their families and not their doctors - it's outrageous," Gillibrand said to a series of loud cheers. 

"So, we should push back and fight back, and I fundamentally believe this is a civil liberties issue. This is our civil rights. We should be able to decide what's going to happen to our bodies and our families. Period. It's really that simple."

That "push back" Gillibrand encouraged the audience, should be part of a general political thrust. She said the culture of Washington will only change if citizens become active and make their voices heard in elections.

Gillibrand's 2018 re-election was never mentioned, nor was President Donald Trump by name, but both subjects hovered throughout the dialogue. 

The Affordable Care Act was also addressed, a policy that has been assailed by the current White House administration. Gillibrand believes the law did not go far enough and she favors a Medicare-for-all approach which, she argued, would prove to be more affordable.

Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News
An estimated crowd of 600 people attended Sen. Gillibrand's town hall meeting at Buffalo State's Rockwell Hall.

"You wouldn't have to guarantee fat CEO pay or quarterly profits. Fundamentally, health care should be a right, not a privilege and I think if the fundamental goal of the organization that is insuring it is health and well-being of people and not profit you are going to be able to have better affordability."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.