Hillary comes to Islip Town

IB/Liz Finnegan

Hillary comes to Islip Town

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
4/14/2016


HOLBROOK—Excitement was palpable inside the grand ballroom of Villa Lombardi’s catering hall on Monday as a crowd awaited the guest of honor at the Suffolk Democrats’ Spring 2016 dinner event. Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton made her appearance later in the evening and wowed the crowd of 850 people.

Even with prepaid tickets, the majority of attendees had waited on long lines outdoors to get inside the venue and then made it through airport-style security in the lobby of the building. But using the cheers and applause for the candidate as a gauge, it seems most everyone felt it was well worth the wait. 

Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said the record turnout was impressive, as was the half a million dollars the event raised for the local party. Suffolk County Legislator Bill Lindsay III (D- 8th District) said he’s happy such a prominent figure made the effort to visit the county. “It’s nice that we were able to get some recognition,” Lindsay said.

It was Congressman Steve Israel (D- 3rd District) who introduced former Secretary of State Clinton, who he had also served with in the House of Representatives when she was a New York Senator. It was noted in the introductions that Israel has decided not to seek re-election this year.

The former First Lady took to the stage with aplomb and delivered a riveting speech that stirred the audience who had risen to their feet and moved closer to the podium to get a closer look. She referred to the many efforts she and Israel worked on together, including providing funding for better health care services and funding for medical research. 

Clinton spoke about both national and local issues, noting that it would be important to protect Long Island neighborhoods, citing that suburban policy—Smart Growth—is an issue that needs a lot more attention.

She said supporting families, especially military families, is a priority. She referred to a disturbing article she’d read that indicated the families of those serving our country overseas needed to go on food stamps. “I read it twice,” she remarked in disbelief. “How can that be?” Clinton said she contacted Congressman Israel and said, “‘This is wrong. Find out what’s going on.’ And we did because it matters that we all look out for one another.”

Clinton said as president, she’d work to help the middle class by tackling skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, pouring money into infrastructure that would help to create more jobs and giving college students a reprieve by making higher education more affordable. She said a more reasonable plan for tuition repayment should be implemented. It might not be debt-free, as suggested by her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders, but she said that the current high interest rates on student loans have made it too difficult for those strapped with college debt to pay it back. She suggested that a sliding scale, which is based on salary, should be used for payback and then the entire loan forgiven after 20 years of payment.

Clinton vowed to protect a woman’s right to choose and to end discrimination in the workplace while promoting equal pay. She also praised the recent passage of increased minimum wage in New York.

She said she’d continue to help immigrants toward a path of citizenship and would work to increase funding for programs for people with disabilities.

“We’re going to keep reaching out to help people and giving folks the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead,” she remarked.

As for the gun lobbyists, Clinton said she planned to take them on and put forth a common sense agenda that would also be supported by gun owners.

As far as her opponents’ rhetoric on the other side of the aisle, Clinton said she’s received messages from international allies asking, “What’s going on?” She noted, “We have to protect our country,” but added that the rhetoric of Trump and Cruz is “not only offensive, it’s dangerous.”

And Clinton noted that those divisive comments by her opponents, who have called for police patrols, surveillance, building walls and promises of deportation, must all be rejected. It is pitting Americans against Americans. “That’s just not who we are,” she said, adding that those comments could actually be fueling the type of hatred that has resulted in ISIS. She said she would fight ISIS and would look to other Muslim nations to join in that fight.

“I’ll go [anywhere], any time to meet with someone to find common ground,” she said. “I will do my very best to create a [better] atmosphere. My values are not just good for New York, they are good for America.”

Legislator Lindsay said that in a year where the presidential primary really matters, he was energized by her presence. “Regardless of how you feel politically, to have someone who could be president of the United States come to our community was great,” he said.

Lindsay noted that even the planned visit of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Patchogue on Thursday, April 14 was a good thing.

“It is great to see all of the candidates here. We just hope that whoever is elected will follow through with all of the [promises],” he said. “But [Monday] was a historic moment for me,” Lindsay added, noting that he got to shake the hand of a person who could be our next president.