I'm very proud to be a John Hall volunteer. I don't want to get too ahead of things, but I feel strongly that we are going to win this race. I know that John Hall - who now leads in the polls - will make a terrific member of Congress and will be a true voice for a sane and more progressive agenda.
Next, as a college freshman in 1979, and a reader of Rolling Stone, I recall reading about John as a catalyst of the No Nukes concert. I can still recall the moment that the Three Mile Island meltdown occurred and - in spite of what the nuclear power industry might have wanted us to believe - realizing, along with so many at that point, how potentially lethal nuclear energy was. Thank goodness for organizations like MUSE, and for John Hall's leadership on this issue.
Having moved to the Hudson Valley just this year and thrown myself into the local progressive scene, I now find myself enthusiastically participating as a John Hall volunteer - joining in canvassing and phone banking efforts in and around Beacon. I was very impressed when John rode the "peace train" to an antiwar rally in NYC earlier this year; too many in the Democratic Party keep too much of a distance from the peace movement. But mostly, I have been impressed with John Hall's overall campaign, such as with the dedication and knowledge of his staff and his many volunteers, with his understanding of the many issues this country faces, along with his ability to explain his position. And the more I learn about Sue Kelly, the more I realize that she truly is the rubber stamp Republican she is often described as, and is unqualified to hold a Congressional seat. The final straw for me was seeing her join in in a rubber stamping of a blatantly unjust and likely unconstitutional bill which allows torture and the suspension of habeas corpus rights for U.S. prisoners. I am deeply ashamed to be represented by this woman in the "people's chamber" of our government. Is it any wonder that she has been running - quite literally - from press scrutiny and has been wanting to avoid having to debate in public forums.
Yesterday, I went to a house party for John Hall at the home of a local activist and her husband, a beautiful house that sits on a hill above the Hudson river and offers a magnificent view. Each guest was asked to make a personal contribution of at least $75.00, which I gladly did. There must have been between 40 and 60 guests, so the event helped to raise between $3,000 to $4,500.00 for the campaign. When I arrived there were already lots of cars parked in the driveway, a good sign of a nice turnout. I went in the house, greeted the hosts and chatted with an acqaintence, whose been an activist for decades. I then went outside to see the magnificent view and talked a bit with some teachers who came up from Long Island and some other folks who came up from Manhattan and from Westchester. It was great having the energy and enthusiasm of people from throughout the metropolitan area there.
Eventually, everyone went back into the house, where Pete Seeger was strumming a guitar and playing some childrens songs for the handful of youngsters who were there. Our host introduced Pete Seeger and then Andrew Spano, the Westchester County Executive, who was to say a few opening comments about John Hall, which he did, speaking as a pragmatic Democrat in a swing district like Westchester and emphasizing Hall's ability to get elected, to pass effective legislation and to get things done, as well as touching on Sue Kelly's many weaknesses.
John was introduced and spoke for a good 15 minutes (in a solid, detailed way with no notes; reminded me of Bill Clinton's ability to think on his feet), followed by around another 10 of Q and A. He touched on a variety of issues, including nuclear and alternative energy, health care, Iraq, and the need for a government which is open and accountable. He talked quite a bit about the campaign and about how the Kelly campaign was trying to distort his record. At several points, the room applauded. He mentioned just getting the NY Times endorsement, and that too got applause. During the Q&A, someone asked him about the Kelly campaign hammering him with the tired "tax and spend" label. He countered with a comparison of his record cutting taxes and balancing budgets with the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush/Kelly policies.
After a second speaker, Harvey Wasserman who spoke about both stolen elections and solar energy, Pete Seeger did a bit more singing, getting the whole room to join in in "If I Had a Hammer" and the antiwar classic "Waste Deep in the Big Muddy". It was almost surreal, but certainly inspiring, to be in a living room, singing along to some folk music classics, with John Hall standing just to my left, singing along with everyone else. I also got to chat a bit with both Hall and Seeger, which was really enjoyable for me.
I think that those of us who were there left very energized for the final push of the campaign. If anyone wants to help, John Hall for Congress