I and other fellow small business owners from Seneca, Schuyler, Tioga and Tompkins counties attended your Town Hall in Fillmore on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m. We each gave up a day of revenue to drive over 2 hours to attend your Town Hall because you have not scheduled anything closer to us. We missed farmers markets and left our retail establishments understaffed during a holiday weekend because we get varied and inconsistent responses from your office when we request better access to you, our elected official. A Town Hall in Corning, Ithaca, Seneca Falls or Waterloo would be more accessible and represent less hardship to our businesses when we attempt to participate as citizens in a democracy you represent.
The officials at Fillmore and the Allen Town Hall were gracious in allowing us to use their facilities, but the lack of preparation by your office for the size of the Feb. 18 Town Hall was clear. Many of us have called your office to request a Town Hall for our area, but by Feb. 18 it was not clear we would get it. We feel it is important to interface directly with our representative and so chose to make the drive. Because so many of us came, the Town Hall had to be held outside in mud and snow. There was no amplification provided by your staff – the sole source came from a device owned by an attendee. At no time were we able to submit our names for commentary or get in line to make a comment, and the discussion went unfacilitated. We feel that this poor preparation came despite ample evidence ahead of time that many of the Town Halls on Feb. 18 would be crowded and was disenfranchising both to the residents of the host towns and to those who traveled to seek dialogue with you.
Because your office has reached out to me on small business matters, I assume you mean what you say as a pro-small business representative. Forcing your constituents to choose between meeting their representative and maximizing sales during one of the leanest financial months of the year is poor representation. We request that you follow through with the suggestions some of your staffers have made and come to any and preferably ALL of the towns mentioned above. It is imperative that you schedule Town Halls in the areas of higher population density as well as rural ones, and that you hear from and consider opinions different from your own and your party. You said Saturday that we can find some common ground on certain issues. We ask for a scheduled, facilitated dialogue with you- we are job creators, tax payers, voters and citizens in your district.
Finger Lakes Cider House at Good Life Farm, Interlaken
Brent Welch and Teresa Vanek
Bright Raven Farm and Apiary, Trumansburg
Black Diamond Farm, Trumansburg
Karma and Michael Glos
Kingbird Farm, Berkshire
Tree Gate Farm, Town of Ithaca