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Congressman Zeldin meets with constituents during mobile office hours

March 6, 2017
In The News

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) held mobile office hours Friday at the Hagerman Fire Department in East Patchogue, where hundreds of people gathered to meet the congressman and share their concerns.

Constituents first filled out forms indicating the topics they wanted to address, which included health care, tax reform, immigration, education, voting rights and the environment.

Residents were grouped according to their area of primary concern and then waited until their group was called in to meet with Mr. Zeldin.

One exception was the group that identified the Affordable Care Act as their main interest, which met with legislative assistant Matt Scott instead of with the congressman himself. 

Joseph Spalone of Shoreham, a combat veteran who served in the Vietnam War, said one of the issues hoped to discuss was immigration.

“My main concern is I’m a grandparent of a Latino family that I married into,” Mr. Spalone said. “Now that Trump is in — and we start to see deportations — I want to know how and what the lines of discrimination are going to be. I don’t want my family broken up by any means.”

Pastors Joni and Jim Lupis of Grace & Truth in Coram said they had come to encourage Mr. Zeldin to vote for legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood. The Wading River couple is also organizing March for Life NY, a pro-life event.

“We’re here because we want to stand up for life,” Ms. Lupis said. “Our congressman is pro-life and we want to support him.”

Miller place resident Nicolle Zeman and her mother, Pat, of Medford, wore pink hats with cat ears — a symbol of support for women’s rights that emerged during the Women’s March on Washington in January.

Nicolle Zeman, an attorney, said she’s been calling Mr. Zeldin’s office every day to find out the results to the poll questions he asked during last month’s telephone town hall.

Mr. Zeldin’s office did not release the responses to four questions his survey posed: Do you approve of the job I’m doing in Congress? Do you approve of the job President Trump is doing? Do you believe our country is on the right track or the wrong track? What do you believe should be done with the Affordable Care Act?

She described his decision to not release those results as a “slap in the face to everybody that devoted more than an hour of their time to listening to his town hall monologue and answering his poll questions.”

Outside the fire department, about 15 people held signs showing their support for Mr. Zeldin and President Donald Trump.

Another group held signs with messages such as “Lee! Let’s talk” to urge the congressman to hold an in-person town hall meeting.

The latter group included Mary Casey of Mattituck and Eleanor Oakley of Shelter Island. Both decided not to participate in the mobile office hours.

“I don’t feel it’s necessary,” Ms. Oakley said. “If I watch Trump, I know exactly what [Mr. Zeldin] is going to say.”

Ms. Casey, who also sported a pink cat hat, said she’d still like a town hall meeting happen.

“This form is unacceptable,” she said of the mobile office hours.

Mr. Zeldin has held several similar mobile office events since 2015, including ones in Riverhead and Southold. His chief of staff, Eric Amidon, noted that Friday’s event had a large turnout.

“Some people come not so much wanting to meet with the congressman,” he said, “they just want their issue solved.”