OSWEGO, NY – Oswego’s Teresa Woolson was a guest of Congressman John Katko at this week’s State of the Union address in Washington, DC.
“He called me a couple weeks ago with the invitation. I was stunned, humbled and so excited. I had a fantastic time in DC. One of Katko’s aids picked me up at my hotel and we went directly to Katko’s office,” she told Oswego County Today.
Then, she had a personal tour of the Library of Congress, which she describes as a “Way cool place!!”
“I was walking and walking around with the Congressman while he showed me some cool areas of the Capital. We went to ‘filed a bill’ at one of the offices,” she said, adding, “I was only allowed to peek into the room.”
Later, they went to the office of Greg Walden, the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Woolson lost her son, Victor, to synthetic drugs in August 2012. Following his death, she created the VOW (Victor Orlando Woolson) Foundation in his honor and has worked on a local, state and federal level to advocate for stronger policies to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction and combat the rise of synthetic drugs.
Her son bought the product at a local store. He told her, “How bad could it be, mom? It’s in the store,” she said in a previous interview with OCT.
“I told my story about Victor to Congressman Walden, who was very interested in my story and the proposed legislation – The SITSA Act,” she said.
The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act modernizes the Controlled Substances Act and outlaws 13 synthetic fentanyls that have been identified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as an immediate threat to public health.
Congressman Walden told Woolson his committee would take up this bill and possibly have it for vote on the floor of the House in March.
“This was great news,” she said. “He couldn’t thank me enough for sharing my story in person with him.”
Woolson and Congressman Katko went to dinner in the suite of the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “where I met a lot of people,” she said. “I did have a glass of wine in the Majority Leader’s suite at dinner.”
Guests for the State of the Union had to be seated by 7:30 p.m., so the Congressman took her to the designated area and made sure she could get in.
“Security was high. I could not take anything into the gallery – no purse, no phone – nothing at all. I had to be ‘pre-approved,’ which I think meant a background check the week before. I did pass through a metal detector, too,” she said. “I had to be seated by 7:30 p.m. and wait.”
Congressional representatives had to be seated by 8:30 p.m.
The Vice President and First Lady were introduced first, as they arrived.
President Trump arrived through the doors just a minute or two after 9 p.m.
“I was impressed with his speech. There was a lot of standing to clap, sitting back down, over and over,” she said.
She had a perfect view of everything.
“I was on the top row in the gallery across from the First Lady,” she said, admitting that she did wave to the First Lady.
Immediately following the SOU, Congressman Katko picked up Woolson and they went directly outside.
“He was excited to show me the presidential limousines and Secret Service vehicles. They were very impressive. Then they all put on their lights and zoomed down the street. It was something to see,” she said. “I will never forget this great experience. Yes, I had a blast!”