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Syracuse mayor calls on Rep. Katko to hold town hall meeting

Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner at a Trump Tuesday rally.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is adding her voice to demands that Rep. John Katko hold a town hall meeting. Protests outside of Katko’s office by progressive groups have been ongoing.

Miner has been holding anti-Trump protests in downtown Syracuse for a few weeks now, focusing on how President Donald Trump’s actions affect central New Yorkers. The protests have dealt with the refugee ban, healthcare and the environment. Sometimes a handful of Trump supporters attend. Miner said she welcomes their opinion.

“This is not about just having a one-way dialogue," Miner said. "In fact, I would like it to be an actual dialogue, not a monologue. Our elected officials should have town halls, so we can have respectful dialogues.”

Katko has been participating in telephone town halls, but protesters with the CNY Solidarity Coalition want him to host an in-person town hall. Katko recently said the calls for in-person town halls were an attempt to get him in front of a camera with several hundred angry people and not let him talk. But Miner said if he holds a town hall, she will be there.

“And I will make sure that there is no screaming and yelling, that it is an honest exchange of ideas so that people can listen to each other and understand the impact that these policies have,” Miner said. "You've heard me here, we don't shout at each other. We allow people to speak, we allow opposing view points. I have been to town halls where there have been very heated discussions. You have my word that it won't be a shouting match. We can't have a democracy if we don't listen to each other."

Miner said she has hosted heated public meetings before like when she wanted Syracuse to temporarily house Central American children fleeing their countries.

“We had a respectful dialogue and that’s what we will have and the congressman owes that to the people of this community," Miner said. "He is our representative. How can he be our representative if he won’t have a town hall and listen to what people have to say? We will be respectful, we will listen as well as speak. We only ask for an opportunity to be heard because if you have a representative government that has representatives who don't hear you, then you don't really have the consent of the governed, do you? It's time.”

Miner will host another anti-Trump rally on Tuesday and a separate Katko protest is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.