More than 200 concerned Democrats from the local area gathered at the Tompkins County Public Library to discuss next steps for the party in a Listening Meeting organized by the Tompkins County Democratic Party on Saturday.
“I knew we were going to have a very good turnout because people were very concerned,” said Irene Stein, chairperson of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee. “We also had RSVPs from our Facebook page, so from them alone, the room would overflow. I’m not surprised, since people are just so concerned.”
Facilitated by Ithaca resident Kirby Edmonds, the meeting — themed “take action at the local level” and “become more involved” — called upon registered Democrats to share their thoughts on what they hope to see happen at the local level in 2017.
Ivy Greene ’17, vice president of Cornell Democrats, addressed her concerns about the health care system.
Greene’s heartfelt speech about her father’s recent recovery in the hospital drew tears from many in the audience, as she spoke up for “the importance of health care.”
“If not for my mom’s health care, my dad would have died,” Greene said. “I encourage you to speak to lifelong conservatives to find common ground with them.”
Among other proposals, many democrats suggested reaching out to Republicans and supporters of President Trump as a “way to heal” and “move past division.”
Harry Stringer of Enfield, who said he registered as a Democrat for the first time in his life to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders, spoke up for “inclusive means” to one of the loudest applauses of the meeting.
“I’m a lifetime blue collar worker, contractor and union supporter, and I voted for Mrs. Jill Stein,” Stringer said. “We must reach out to people we don’t agree with.”
Linda Hoffman, chair of the Democratic Committee of Ithaca, urged democrats to recruit more volunteers. Hoffman referred to the Democrats’ Facebook page and website, which he said needed improvement.
“We need to be in a collective mode — not an individual one — to get our voices heard,” Hoffman said.