Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand takes questions at Buffalo town hall

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is making the rounds in New York State to listen to people’s biggest concerns.

Wednesday night, she held a town hall in South Buffalo, taking questions from the public that ranged in topic from the Trump impeachment inquiry to America’s healthcare system.

Among the 50+ people who attended were some United Auto Workers members on strike. They wanted to know when the federal government might intervene in the stalemate with GM.

Gillibrand’s answer was somewhat bleak, saying she doesn’t think they’ll get help from the current federal administration. Meanwhile, she said, unions have been undermined for the past 30 years as some laws have made collective bargaining more difficult.

“I think those efforts are really harmful. Harmful to our middle class, harmful to our economy, harmful to our competitiveness. So I’m going to do everything I can to support unions and to support working men and women who aren’t getting fair wages,” she said.

NY-27 Democratic candidate Nate McMurrary asked how Democrats can win back people who voted for President Trump in 2016. Gillibrand said really listen to people’s concerns. After Trump was elected, Gillibrand says she traveled the state – which mostly voted for Trump – and found New Yorkers’ worries were nearly all economic, and so many voted for “the great disruptor.”

“They’re losing hope for their children, that their children won’t get a good education, public schools are crumbling, college is too expensive, student debt is crippling, and they don’t see that middle class opportunity in their future or in their children’s futures, so people did throw that Hail Mary pass,” Gillibrand said.

A Planned Parenthood organizer wanted Gillibrand’s opinion on the ‘global gag rule,’ which Trump reinstated in early 2017, and Title X, both of which cut funding to organizations globally and domestically that educate on, recommend, or provide access to abortion. Gillibrand said are causing women to lose autonomy over their own bodies.

“It’s taking away your civil rights and your human rights, and it would never be the law of the land if it affected men this way,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand takes questions from the public on October 9, 2019.

Paul McQuillen, the upstate coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, asked how can gun legislation reform get passed in Washington, D.C.

Gillibrand said to keep telling the stories of those who have been directly affected by gun violence, but also “fight for getting money out of politics.”

“That’s the quickest way to neutralize an organization like the NRA, which is funded, supported, and directed by the gun manufacturers who want to make money and sell guns more than they want to help people,” she said.

Gillibrand, who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race in August, said her focus is New York now, but she was glad to have had the opportunity to take ideas she says work in New York and share them across the country. Asked if she has a Democratic candidate she backs, Gillibrand said not yet.

“I will be looking at the platforms and ideas of all my colleagues, and hopefully I’ll decide by the New York primary date as to who to endorse,” Gillibrand said.

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