STATEN ISLAND — At least 200 Islanders packed into the St. Philip’s Baptist Church in Port Richmond Monday evening to ask their newly elected Congressman Max Rose (D-Staten Island/South Brooklyn) about his work in Washington, D.C. and get him on the record about key Island issues.
Islanders pressed Rose on everything from transportation and guns to abortion and immigration.
The congressman vowed to fight to help homeless Island veterans get the help the need, vote for the Dream Act and help undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gain a pathway to citizenship, and to get more transportation options for Island residents.
He told constituents he was not a socialist and would stand up to hatred and anti-Semitism from both Republicans and Democrats.
The first-term congressman made it clear he worked for the people of Staten Island.
“What this is about is the fact that I answer to you … so I’m here today to ask you a very simple question,” he said. “How am I doing? And what else can we do? What matters to you?”
EAST SHORE SEAWALL
Rose’s town hall came on the heels of President Donald Trump signing a bill into law marking the final steps before construction can start on a seawall along Staten Island’s East Shore.
Rose said he expects construction on the seawall to begin at the end of this year and into early to mid 2020.
The congressman took a jab at Mayor Bill de Blasio around the issue of a lack of transportation options for Staten Islanders.
“If it was someone in Brooklyn, or someone in Manhattan, or someone in the Bronx, something tells me that the mayor would have thought about this sooner,” Rose said.
The congressman vowed to fight in Washington, D.C. to bring transportation resources back to Staten Island.
He also said he would push to add more ferry service, improve train service from the South Shore to the North Shore and get more buses for Island commuters.
But Rose admitted there was no magic bullet to fix all of the borough’s transportation woes.
“Anybody that tells you there’s a silver bullet to our transportation woes is lying to you, or they’re naive … or some combination of both,” he said.
Rose was also asked about Speaker Corey Johnson’s plan that would create a new entity controlled by the mayor known as “Big Apple Transit” — or BAT — that would oversee the city’s buses and subways, bridges, tunnels and Staten Island Railway.
The new system would break away from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority and put New York City’s transportation system under mayoral control.
However, Rose said he thinks the governor should control the MTA, and said the Johnson’s plan would hinge on who the mayor of New York City is.
9/11 VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND
Since taking office, the congressman has been leading a bipartisan effort to get Congress to pass a bill to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
He said that so far, he has been able to get a “really significant” number of co-sponsors to sign onto The Never Forget the Heroes Act.
He also said he was confident that if it got to Trump’s desk, the president would sign it.
‘We have gotten a really significant number of co-sponsors and we are just getting started,” he said. “We are going to get so many co-sponsors that we are going to force this onto the floor of the House, make sure that this is voted on, resoundingly passed and then put a very basic question before the United States Senators and that is: Who’s side are you on? And are you willing to openly show your hypocrisy to the United States people.”