State News

Pocan talks to UW students, community in town hall

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., held a town hall on campus Thursday to discuss local and national issues with students and community members.

Image By: Evan Taber

While home on congressional recess, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., held a town hall Thursday in Dejope Hall to answer questions from students and community members alike.

Pocan, who represents Dane County, said he felt it was important to hear from his constituents back home when he’s not in Washington, D.C.

“[Pocan] is prioritizing students [by] even having a town hall,” Augie McGinnity-Wake, chair of College Democrats, said. “There are a lot of representatives and senators on the Republican side that could learn something from Mark Pocan.”

Pocan fielded questions from audience members on a variety of topics such as Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, climate change and Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic.

In reference to so-called “Russiagate,” meaning Russia’s potential role in the 2016 presidential election, Pocan said he had read the confidential document twice and that the public had not yet heard all of the facts. Pocan did not elaborate on what he meant.

“There is a lot more to come out on Russia,” he said.

When a concerned student brought up the issue of global warming and climate change, Pocan said he was worried because “not everyone in Congress believes in science.” He also brought up the Trump administration’s recent “damaging” cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“If I had hair, I would be pulling it out,” Pocan joked.

When asked what the public could do to enact change, Pocan advised that people continue to call their representatives, use social media to amplify the number of people who know about the issue and find local and national groups who align with their views.

A common theme during the town hall was the opioid addiction that is plaguing Wisconsin.

“Every single district has a problem with opioid addiction,” Pocan said. He asked those in attendance to raise their hand if they had someone in who their life who struggled with a similar drug dependency. Roughly half the room put a hand in the air.

“I think we are all a little uneasy with everything that is going on right now in the country, so it was really comforting to hear him speak. He is able to make us all take a deep breath,” McGinnity-Wake said.

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