Tonko talks refugees, healthcare, job creation during forum at SCCC

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Congressman Paul Tonko held a constituent town hall forum on Monday, and people took the opportunity to express their concerns.

The forum was held at Schenectady County Community College. The auditorium is able to hold 400 people, but over 1,000 attended. Tonko addressed local and national concerns, including job creation and Syrian refugees.

President Donald Trump’s handling of immigration and refugee resettlement was one of the most frequently asked questions. Tonko said citizens should take the time to listen and understand them, a mistake he believes the country has made.

“By ignoring some of the specifics, we were creating a lightning rod of opportunity for the ISIS and terrorist-related groups,” he said.

Tonko then addressed the need for a boost in the local economy. Before the forum, he told the media he was ready to face the crowd and their needs.

“We all feel the pressure,” he said. “I understand the pressure of the need for job creation, job security for income or economic fairness.”

In reference to the Affordable Care Act, Tonko said he was repeatedly asked to repeal it, but he said, “there needs to be replace[ment] in place before repeal.”

“We cannot afford to reduce the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “We want to improve it.”

During the forum, Tonko was asked to attend several upcoming local events as well as events in Washington.

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