By: Stephanie Sorrell-White | Times Telegram
UTICA – Pearl Dunn, of Mohawk, sat with her husband Timothy before the start of a town hall meeting with Republican presidential candidate hopeful John Kasich.
Dunn said she’s been “disturbed” by much of what she has seen, so far, this political season.
“I haven’t missed a presidential election since I was 21, when I was first able to vote,” she said, noting that was the required age at the time. “I was seriously thinking about skipping this one.”
Dunn said she was encouraged by her son, who she said is into politics, to attend the town hall at Mohawk Valley Community College on Friday to learn more about Kasich.
“I have not heard too much of him yet,” she said. “… I’m interested in hearing what he has to say.”
Kasich brought his message to the Mohawk Valley Friday as he fights for votes and delegates in the New York primary set to take place on April 19. Kasich is behind on the delegate count for the Republican nomination and is currently polling second behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
Kasich engaged his audience from the moment he took the stage, when he carried a six-month-old baby onto the stage wearing a shirt that read “Smartest guy in the room.”
“I thought it was Trump,” said Kasich, drawing laughs from the audience. “Just kidding.”
He asked if there were any MVCC students in the audience, and took a moment to talk to one. He encouraged the 11-year-old girl who sang the national anthem to sing another song since he didn’t get to hear it. She obliged, and sang “You’re a Grand Ole Flag.”
Kasich took questions from the audience and talked about upstate New York, the delegate process, terrorism, veterans and even mentioned the tragedy involving Utica native and New Orleans Saints football player Will Smith.
Kasich led his town hall meeting from a small stage centered in the room with visitors sitting on all sides of him. Kasich gave a similar town hall meeting earlier in the day in Watertown.
A large banner in the back of the stage read “Kasich for Us” with American flags hanging on either side. A clock calculating the national debt was also clicking away on one side of the room, with a New York state flag draped on the other side of the room.
Martin Babinec, who is running for the 22nd Congressional District seat on the Independence Party ticket, said before the event he was interested in learning more about Kasich.
“I’m interested in knowing as much as I can about all the presidential candidates,” he said. “When I get elected, I can’t pick who I get to work with. I want to be ready to work with them.”
Babinec said he appreciates Kasich’s engaging with private sector resources to create more jobs in new industries. “That’s aligned with my own campaign goals,” he said.
Babinec added he was glad Kasich “wanted to stop here and share his message.”
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente introduced Kasich to the approximately 600 people who attended the event. Picente said Kasich is a “true leader” who understands national security and is the only candidate that can beat Hillary Clinton in a general election.
“New York has rarely been in play in a presidential election,” said Picente.
Earlier this week, Trump visited Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome to give a rally. Also, MSNBC News aired its afternoon program on Thursday and Friday from Fly Creek Cider Mill in Otsego County to cover the lead up to Tuesday’s primary.