By Janel Sullivan/Contributing Writer
As the small crowd gathered in the Volney Town Hall early Friday evening, each person was asked to fill out a form with a brief description of the issue they wanted State Senator Patty Ritchie to address. Senator Ritchie realized that not everyone has the time to come see her at her headquarters in Oswego, so she put her campaign on wheels. Legislators throughout the state host these kinds of public events.
Even though the crowd was small, there was no doubt there is concern for the state of Upstate.
At first people didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. Ritchie called up each individual or pair to address what concerned them most. Others were welcome to listen in on conversations.
Hot topics of the night were increasing gas prices, and the status of the federal Farm Bill. The Farm Bill expired on September 30th and left the future of already dwindling dairy farms uncertain. Fuel prices go hand in hand with this because even without the Farm Bill expiring, trucking milk was already expensive.
Others wanted to know what was being done about the great divide between Upstate and New York City, citing that it feels as if NYC is another state entirely and has no interest in Upstate issues.
Some were expecting the senator to speak to the room but came to appreciate the more intimate setting which clearly gives a voice to people who don’t want to raise their hands or speak up in front of everyone.
Palermo representative of the Oswego County Fair Board and former county legislator Barbara Brown wanted to ask Senator Ritchie about reimbursements for the county fairs on their premiums. Brown wanted to know why the fairs wouldn’t see their money until April 2013.
The number one issue of the night was redistricting. Redistricting occurs every 10 years after a new census is taken. After the 2010 census New York’s congressional delegation went from 29 to 27 seats.
The redistricting process is historically controversial and the lines to be finalized in 2013 are following that tradition. Chip Kio came out to ask the senator about this issue exclusively. He wondered which legislators would truly have an interest in Volney after new lines are drawn.