Kristen Gillibrand (73625)
Kristen Gillibrand

New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand addressed topics ranging from health care, gun violence, race relations and Israel at a town hall meeting for constituents on Saturday at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

Approximately 600 people attended the town hall held at the college’s Center for the Arts and Culture. Other elected officials attended the town hall, including Public Advocate Letitia James.

Saturday’s town hall was the second of several town halls Gillibrand plans on having throughout the state. Her first was in Syracuse earlier this month.

Audience members in the Bronx were given the opportunity to ask questions via lottery system. Numbers were drawn, allowing for people to ask their questions.

The town hall took place before the Senate’s vote to open a debate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Gillibrand vowed to vote no against the bill at the town hall.

“This bill will harm millions of Americans, and I will use every tool I have as a senator to fight it. I encourage all New Yorkers to join me and to speak out and demand better than a back-room deal that harms those who work so hard to provide for their families,” she said. “Democracy only works when regular people stand up and demand action. We cannot give up in this fight.”

One audience member asked Gillibrand about what she is doing to cut down on gun violence. The senator said the issue starts with cutting what is known as the “iron pipeline.”

“We have so much gun violence in this country, and it’s so easy for some to access firearms in our state because of trafficking,” she said. “Around 90 percent of guns are from out of state and 80 percent of them are illegal.”

Another audience member, who works at a hospital, told the senator she was the victim of racial discrimination at her job. She asked what she could do at the grassroots level and what it would take to bring the issue of discrimination in the workplace to the forefront. The woman also addressed the issue of the lack of affordable housing.

Gillibrand responded by saying that the women should consider filing a lawsuit as well as informing others about what’s going on. She also discussed her work in Washington on getting more affordable housing in New York City.

This week, Gillibrand and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer announced that more than $30 million will be provided for 10 Early Head Start and Head Start programs throughout New York. The federal funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Early Head Start Program and Head Start Program, and will be used to support and grow education and development services for low-income families.