This opinion piece was written by Tompkins County resident Stephen A. Wagner. It was NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact us at tips@ithacavoice.com. 

ITHACA, N.Y. — When was the last time you called your representative? Your Senator and Rep in D.C.? Your reps in Albany? Even Svante, to express your opinion or tell them how they should vote? Probably not recently, if at all.

Calling my representatives is a quality that was instilled upon me by my grandmother. She told me “It is your constitutional right to call D.C. and give them a piece of your mind!” Thanks to my grandmother I call monthly, sometimes weekly to give Washington and Albany a piece of my mind. It only takes up roughly 10 minutes of your week. Not much time at all. Less time you spend liking your sister-in-law’s posts on Instagram; she really isn’t a good crafter anyways. Spend that time calling D.C. and Albany. Tell them what you support and don’t support. Want the unconstitutional Travel Ban defeated? Give Rep. Reed, Sen. Schumer and Sen Gillibrand a ring and let them know! That is one of the best and fastest ways to get your view across.

With calling these offices you will encounter a range of folks. Most are nice interns or assistants going about their day. But once in awhile you come across an unethical person. For example, on June 5th, I called Senator O’Mara’s office to express my disapproval of the Travel Ban. I mentioned I know the Travel Ban is a national issue. What I wanted to make sure was that my state government was doing what it can to fight the ban on a state level.

When I told her that I have Muslim friends here in New York that are afraid. Her response was: Laughter. Yes, laughter. I know she does not speak for O’Mara himself in that response, but it does tell me what kind of people he has working for him. By her laughing, it implies she disregards a serious concern of a population of the great state of New York. I am pretty sure she would be very concerned about anyone of the Christian faith being worried that someone might attack them just because they pray to a certain god. I see this as a serious issue.

Do not let an incident like this keep you from calling your representatives. Our forefathers knew petitioning the government was a fundamental right. Let’s not disappoint the ghost of James Madison. I have included all the main office phones numbers of Washington and Albany. Please call your reps and give them a piece of your mind!

Senator Chuck Schumer: (202) 224-6542
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: (202) 224-4451
Representative Tom Reed: (202) 225-3161
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton: (518) 455-5444
Senator Tom O’Mara: (518) 455-2091