Joseph Geha, East Bay Times
Unexpected turnout at Ro Khanna’s first town hall meeting
February 22, 2017
Newly elected Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna held his first town hall meeting at Ohlone College on Wednesday, Feb 22. There was a huge turnout, with hundreds of people filling the main auditorium and overflowing to two additional rooms. Khanna emphasized his message of progressing the democratic party instead of focusing on the Trump Administration.
He started off with his disapproval of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to cancel most of the Lifeline Program, which funds broadband internet access to rural and low-income areas of the country. Following that, he spoke about how the Democratic Party should focus on concrete solutions that can improve lives, instead of “focusing on Trump’s missteps.” Khanna said that it is the democratic party’s responsibility to take voices of Trump supporters into account as well, such as their discontent towards leaders across the country, as well as the perspective that the economy favors only a few. Through this, he articulated that the democratic party needs to stand for moral clarity and unison.
Congressman Khanna backed up the $15 dollar minimum wage proposition and said he was proposing a bill to massively expand the earned-income tax credit to $1 trillion to help low- and moderate-income families;. in contrast with ordinary democratic ideas, which Khanna says, will only offer 60 billion.
Khanna went on to visit another room after spending an hour in the main auditorium, where he repeated his message. In the last “overflow” room which Khanna couldn’t visit because of time constraints, constituents held a structured meeting with a fellow citizen offering to volunteer as a moderator. People raised questions concerning a variety of issues, such as inadequate funding in science research, the repealing of the Affordable Care Act, and the Caucus Khanna was building. Irvington student Vail Varone (12) also raised a question about how students, as non-eligible voters, can stay involved in issues concerning their own future.
“At my age, people share articles on Facebook but nobody does anything,” said Varone. “To do something, I want to learn and be well informed beforehand.”
Several other Irvington students who didn’t get to attend the main meeting also stayed in the “overflow” room to listen to the questions and concerns.
“I attended mainly for civic participation,” said senior Cindy Hsiao. “I’m impressed how the conversation came out, and [the moderator did a good job].”
Ro Khanna said he was humbled by the unbelievable turnout. Participants carried out constructive and practical discussions about concrete resolutions instead of criticizing on the current government.The huge involvement of citizens shows the people’s concern and engagement towards current issues.