The Ithaca Voice will be live streaming audio of the town hall Saturday morning on our Facebook Page. A high-quality video will be published in its entirety after the event. 

ITHACA, N.Y. — Hundreds of people are lined up at the Southside Community Center Saturday morning — some of whom have braved the cold since 4 a.m. — to ensure they have a ticket for the Tom Reed town hall, slated to start at 8 a.m.

A group of four Tompkins County women — Walaa Maherem-Horan, Ellen Walsh, Sabah Almed Hathaway and Doa Abdel-Ahany — were the first people in line at the Southside Community Center, where wind chill values were at about -10 degrees while they were in line.

For the women — who live in Lansing, Danby and Ithaca respectively — it was worth the wait.

“We all expected significant numbers of people and it was really important for us to be here,” Maherem-Horan said.

She and the other women went to Reed’s Jamestown town hall last month and followed him to several more in the region on the same day.

“So I’m really glad he actually came to Ithaca because we’re part of his constituency and he has to address us,” she said.

They all said that after attending Reed’s other town halls, they know he has a few canned answers for some of the most controversial topics. That he says some of their claims are untrue or that he wants to work together with people across the political aisle. But it’s important, they said, for them to show up anyway, even if they are not happy with Reed’s answers.

For Walsh, that means holding Reed accountable for his support of the border wall between the United States and Mexico.

“I don’t pay taxes so that we can build a border wall and so that we can ban people who need us at the border. I don’t pay taxes to rip families apart…,” she said.

For Maherem-Horan, that means asking questions about the Affordable Care Act and newly proposed legislation by Republicans for an alternate plan, which she said is unrealistic for people living paycheck-to-paycheck.

“Giving someone who’s economically not in the same base as he is a health savings account is like giving a starving person a cookbook…It’s really hard to save for a health saving account when you’re barely making enough to live,” she said.

The women were in the majority of the hundreds of people in line who say they did not vote for Trump.

“Would anyone admit it if they were (a supporter)?,” one person asked.

But Dr. Tom Taylor was among the first few hundred people in line and he has a different message for Reed.

“…Do not forget the people who got you elected on the basis of your promises and the agenda you promised to enact. You do not lose elections by keeping your promises. You lose the election by breaking your promises,” he said.

Taylor is among the 149,779 people who re-elected Reed to public office in November.

“As a doctor, I’ve seen the direct results of Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, and it has been an unmitigated disaster,” he said.

He said that while some people have been helped by the ACA, he has seen that most people’s healthcare plans have changed in undesirable ways, such as through higher costs or fewer choices.

But he’s also not in full support of new proposals for healthcare announced by the Trump administration this week. He said he wants to see market reforms and more competition in health care.

He said, “I was promised by the president and by Congressman Reed that we would repeal Obama Care, not substitute something which is Obama Care Light.”

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.