© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Protesters outside town hall taunt Katko to come speak to them

While the town hall went on inside, protesters vented their frustrations about Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) outside the venue at Onondaga Community College. The rally organized by CNY Solidarity, objected to the rules and random selection of audience members at the town hall.

About 200 protesters, who did not receive what they called the “golden tickets” to get inside, taunted Katko to come out and speak with them. Elaine Denton of Manlius passed out flyers with chants and held a sign saying, "Mom of three, Katko scared of me."

“I find that this is a media stunt," Denton said. "You have to have ID. You have to win a lottery. The odds of winning the lottery, to talk to your own representative is ridiculous.”  

Protesters called on Katko to support releasing President Donald Trump's tax returns and a special prosecutor to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Heather McKenzie of Baldwinsville said one of her biggest concerns is healthcare. Her one-year-old daughter Natalie was born 10 weeks premature.

“Because of that situation, we both have pre-existing conditions," McKenzie said. "What happens if that goes away if I get a new job and get new insurance and they don’t cover my issues, or hers?”

Katko never did address the protesters but some audience members did. One of them was Paul Dreher-Wiberg of Warners, who is the pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. He said the atmosphere inside the town hall was noisy, people were angry but Katko maintained his composure.

“I do believe that he is an independent thinker," Dreher-Wiberg said. "I think he is wrong on a lot of policy issues and he heard us loud and clear on that.”

He agreed there should be more town halls but thinks this was a step in the right direction.  

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.