April 22, 2022
By Jasmine Willis
CORNING — Rep. Tom Reed stood where it all began over a decade ago to say farewell to all those he has worked with and known over the years.
On Thursday, Reed talked to family, friends, and colleagues at the Corning City Hall about what he has accomplished, most proud of, and the pressing issues of today in the congress.
Corning Mayor William Boland Jr. said he was delighted to have Reed give his last town hall meeting where it all started. Reed was mayor of Corning in 2008. He joined the congress in 2010 and gave 12 years of service to his country. “It is our delight to have you here for your last town hall meeting. I express the sentiments of everyone else in this room to thank you for your contribution over the years,” Boland said.
After an emotional statement of thanks to all those who have supported him over the years, Reed talked about several big topics on everyone’s mind. He thanked family, friends, neighbors, staff, and local officials for all the love and support. He said it is people like his neighbors and friends who made Corning a good place to live and grow up. Reed said everything he did was for the people, and he hopes to stay in the political arena working for our freedoms.
Reed commented on being on the wall of mayors. He said he knew a lot of them from growing up in this city. He became friends with a few of them, and talked fondly about them. Reed talked fondly about growing up in the city. Reed talked about the last meeting that was held in Geneva getting a little passionate. There were some people who are passionate in disagreement with him that stood up for him at this meeting.
“That means the world to me to get respect from folks that may not agree with you politically, but at least respect you for having a conversation. They have a willingness to show up. That is something I always believed in. I always believed in order to represent people you need to listen,” he said. “That is what these town halls have always been about. It was always meant to show respect to the people who represent, and to show empathy on how to look at things from a different point of view. I can tell you from the town halls themselves I learned a lot. I learned a lot about the world, district, and people. Most importantly the best ideas in my head came from all of you.”
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano gave some final words to the respect he has for Reed.
“I have had the privilege of working with you. I have worked with you and been friends with you throughout the 12 years. I always admired your leadership, especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic. One thing people might not know is Tom (Reed) organized our region and communicating with all of us in legislation. He communicated with local and state officials,” he said. “The one thing that stood out to me was right after we finished the state budget and I woke up with my phone blowing up after Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo made the announcement he was coming for all of our ventilators. The national guard was going to come upstate and take all of our ventilators from our hospitals. Tom put out a message to the region saying this was unacceptable. From that moment on he made sure the communication in our region was strong. You did that when the state and local officials were working with the health care officials. I admire your hard work, your accessibility, your responsibly and the communication with the region. We all were working together to try to better our region.”
Palmesano said he was very impressed with how Reed handled leadership in the pandemic.
Reed said this community is all about good men and women who live here. He commented Mayor Boland Jr. and Corning City Manager Mark Ryckman for everything they have done for the city. Ryckman said that Reed was instrumental in creating a program for the first responders that has enhanced public safety and benefits those who put their lives on the line every day.
Reed talked about his visit overseas just a week ago. He was in Ukraine to see the impact of the war on the people. “Last week I was literally in Ukraine. I literally put my foot over the line as I stood in Poland. We went to Germany, Denmark and Poland. We ended our week at the Ukrainian border. It reminded me how important it is that we stand strong as the United States of America. Poland in particular right now is stepping up. They are accepting millions of people that are being devastated by the evilness of war,” he said. “To see refuges coming with their families across the border carrying their babies and bags with all their possessions. They had all the precious items they could carry and walk 100 miles. It impacts you when you see those people, and you can’t do anything but stand on your side of the line until they get to it. You can embrace them and try to comfort them. It reminds me about how we all want this to be an ideal world, but I am a realest and I know there is evil in the world.”
Reed said when he was overseas, he knew some people don’t like our way of life with freedom and democracy. “There are people who want to embrace communism and oppressive governments like Russia and China. One of the storms on the horizon that I truly see happening is that fight between democracy and freedom and governments like Russia and China. I have gotten briefing on what they are telling their people that they have already declared to President Biden’s face that America’s days are over. Putin has said we are in checkmate, and he has us there. He thinks it is their time to rise. That should be concerning,” he said. “It is going to take all of us coming together and setting aside these petty political differences. I see these petty fights in congress, and I go to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle telling them to stop. This is not the message we want to be sending the world. We want to send a message to our citizens that we are strong.”
Reed talked about the impact this war is having on infrastructure and food all over the world. Ukraine supplies a lot of the food, oil and fuel in Europe. This has been the cause of why food and gas prices have soared in our country.
Reed talked about the Capital Riot on Jan. 6 and how it impacted the congress.
“We don’t have the debate resorting to violence. Having lived through the Jan. 6 riot firsthand one of the debates at the Geneva meeting was one of the hard right individuals trying to defend the Jan. 6 riot. That was completely unacceptable. We were confronted about this when we were in Denmark. They were questioning us as a delegation, “he said. “Can America continue to be the strong democracy that it is. We all responded that what Jan. 6 should’ve told the world that yes it was difficult to watch, and it was a sign that we are not without weakness, but at the end of the day we did our job. We all went back into that chamber. We went back into the Capital. We don’t transfer power in America with bullets and weapons, or with death and destruction. We do the peaceful transition of power in America. We left a good message to our allies.”
Reed said he met with several international officials who are talking about turning their backs on America and leaning towards Russia and China. He said those who normally without question would be on our side and leaning towards the communist countries.
Denmark and Poland are standing firm with us and remain great allies. They are starting to see the wisdom of not putting all their eggs in one basket, Reed said.
A polish leader told Reed that Putin is keeping the line of oil and fuel through Ukraine and the rest of Europe. Putin sees the oil as the money maker and natural gas as political. Essentially what is being seen on the horizon is if you control the food and heat for Ukraine and Europe you are going to kill millions of people, Reed said about Putin’s control and power.
The question remains what will America do during all of this as the ambassador of freedom. Reed said when you put freedom against communism it is amazing what freedom can do.
Once freedom takes hold in China which would be their Achelous heel the people will revolt and not want to be oppressed, Reed said.
Reed said the thing he is most proud of and what he hopes will be his legacy in congress is the Problem Solvers Caucus. “It is a group of 29 republicans and 29 democrats. One of the things we are committed to is having a dialogue and commit to one another. We now have 20 senators working with us. Now we have institutionalized that and it will go forward. What I have seen is people on both sides of the aisle trying to inspire our country out of fear and hate. That causes a lot of people to disengage. I see an opportunity for the silent majority,” he said. “We have fractions of the republican and democratic party being taken over by extremists. This is why we need the silent majority to engage in the process and believe again. We need to get more men and women running for office on both sides with the local, state and federal level. This is what we have been working on. When we first started the Problem Solvers Caucus I was told to chase that windmill. Now I have shown this is what we came to congress to do, and we are in every single deal. Right now, after the work we did in building those relationships we can get our bills on the floor.”
Reed talked about the facilities getting the billions of dollars required to process children. He talked about the horror of children being found washed up dead, and how those in power in Washington wanted to use it for political gain. He took a stand for the lives of those children and showed politicians that these are human beings.
Reed ended the farewell meeting talking about the hope he has for the future and how he plans to stick around in politics to continue fighting for the people. He doesn’t know what the next chapter will be after his term ends in 2023, but he knows he will always have a heart for the people.