DEERPARK, ORANGE COUNTY — Health care, taxes and Indian Point were the topics that dominated US. Rep Nan Hayworth’s public forum at Deerpark town hall Thursday.
About 50 people attended the meeting and vented their frustrations to Hayworth, R-Mount Kisco, inside town hall, located approximately two hours north of New York City in the western portion of Orange County.
Hayworth, who has served a little more than 100 days in office after defeating Democrat John Hall In November, patiently stood and answered a wide range of questions from the audience. The mood was cordial for the most part, but there were a few topics that caused the atmosphere inside the small meeting hall to spike with excitement.
Hayworth, a retired eye doctor, represents the 19th Congressional District district is made up of northern Westchester County—including Mount Kisco, Bedford and Yorktown—all of Putnam County, southern Dutchess County, most of Orange County and northern Rockland County.
Dorothy Winners, a resident of Slate Hill, NY, questioned Hayworth about her belief that the Indian Point nuclear power point, located in Buchanan, is safe and secure.
”Now, I find that almost impossible to believe that anybody could not be seriously concerned about nuclear energy at this point, especially with no evacuation plan that could work for Indian Point being as close to New York City as it is,” Winners said. “There’s so much population there. I think we need to take a very serious look at nuclear energy and nuclear safety and I think you need to restate your position.”
Hayworth acknowledged that Indian Point has been an area of concern in light of the ongoing problems with the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Japan and the threat of a possible terrorist attack.
But Hayworth said the Japanese nuclear power plant is different from Indian Point due to the fact that it is located on more vulnerable section of land in the Pacific. Even though Indian Point is located near the Ramapo fault, Hayworth said it did not pose the same seismic risk.
“It is true that we have slip faults throughout the northeast and we actually live in one of the most seismically active areas in the country…but it’s a different type of seismic situation and seismic risk than at Fukushima Dai-Ichi,” Hayworth said.
Hayworth said she spoke with representative from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and they assured her that none of the nuclear power plants stateside had an immediate risk similar to the one in Japan.
“I’m not personally concerned and I live downwind of Indian Point…I’m not concerned that I am in imminent danger to be sure,” Hayworth said. “I’m not concerned that they are irresponsible in any way. “
Darrell McElroy, of Middletown, Orange County, questioned Hayworth about her decision to support the budget proposal introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, and other cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
“Your vote to repeal the health care law, if it gets passed, is going to impact my 21-year-old brother who doesn’t have health insurance,” McElroy said. “It could impact my niece, who was born 16 weeks premature. She’s eligible for Medicaid. Your vote on the Ryan budget, I’m concerned that by making it a block grant that to save money, states will just cut money without any care or caution.”
Hayworth said Ryan’s budget proposal would bring federal spending back to balance gradually. While the cuts are difficult, Hayworth said it would impossible taxpayers to enjoy the fruits of their labor if federal government continued to spend in ways that can’t be sustained.
“We’re on a track to not be able to afford that and your children are going to be paying for it and we can’t get around that,” Hayworth said. “It’s just a fact. When you fund things with debt, someone eventually has to pay. We are adding to the debt. We’re not even going close to paying it.”
Luise Vandemark, a cervical cancer survivor who also resides in Huguenot, expressed her concerns to cuts to Planned Parenthood. She said Planned Parenthood was the only option for young many women to get exams.
“By cutting that ,you are cutting services to a lot of young woman,” Vandemark said. “I was fortunate. My husband had medical insurance. Where are these young people supposed to go who can’t find a job, are at jobs that don’t have insurance? You’re a doctor. You’re a woman. Care about the young woman.”
Hayworth, who supports abortion rights, voted to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood. She said there is strong sentiment from taxpayers across the country who don’t want their funds used for abortions and she felt obligated uphold that sentiment. She said the responsibility now belongs to Planned Parenthood to respond to that sentiment.
“If Planned Parenthood could completely get away from that specific aspect of the service range it provides, then I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t be happy to assist in the process of keeping vital services open to people who need it the most,” Hayworth said.