Congressman Paul Tonko visits Hudson Valley

Hunter Wallace
News Editor

Congressman Tonko expresses his thoughts on topics ranging from environmental policies to cybersecurity. Photo by: Elisa Pruden

Congressman Tonko expresses his thoughts on topics ranging from environmental policies to cybersecurity.

U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko came to Hudson Valley and gave a speech about Russian hacking, war, environmental policy and more on April 21.

Tonko began his speech by relating college to Congress. “Serving in Congress is somewhat akin to being on a campus because there are a number of committees before the House,” said Tonko.

“I’m on what’s called an exclusive committee, and it’s like developing a major, just as you would on campus, except that your focus goes into developing energy commerce policy and advocating on behalf of agencies that fall under that umbrella,” he said.

The first topic of concern Tonko addressed was economic and environmental policy.

“No nation this strong and no economy as great as the American economy should be without a comprehensive energy plan, but the impact of technology has created the challenge of verification in our modern age,” said Tonko.

“Off all the geography of the United States, the Capital Region is deemed one of the five fastest-growing bids of real estate in the country for innovation, job growth and employment and, out of the five, the Capital Region is considered one of the two most exponentially growing,” he said.

Tonko proceeded to share his views on war and military.

“War is an overused vehicle; it results in lost lives, high expenses and a cut in domestic programs,” said Tonko.

“I believe that if we wish to change this, then we need to devise a strategic plan, prepared and reviewed by Congress, and then insert our actions into events,” he said.

The next topic Tonko approached was Russian hacking and his thoughts on it’s interference with the election.

“Our intelligence committee, which I would match against any country of the world, has come up with sound evidence of hacking, claiming that officials in Russia were part of this,” said Tonko.

“I personally believe that Putin is no fan of this country’s democracy, and that there would be no greater joy for him than dismantle this country’s democracy because we are the beacon of hope around the world,” he said.

Tonko’s final topic of interest was activism. “There’s an organic quality associated with this current activism that’s going on; I’ve never seen it, but it was there in the ’60s, building toward change,” said Tonko.

“If you think our government is steering you in the wrong direction, make it very clear and espousing your beliefs by becoming invested in campaigns and start looking at some of the races you might be able to affect in your neighborhood and your state,” he said.

After this, Assistant Professor Matthew Zembo concluded the event with a statement directed at students who wish to make a change.

“We are a revolutionary people; our job is to agitate, to fight, to push and to do what we think is right, and there’s nothing wrong with challenging our elected officials,” said Zembo.

“Now, go out and change the world,” he said.

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