Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (9th Congressional District) held a “Listening Session” at P.S. 251 Paerdegat School, 1037 East 54th Street, on June 16th to hear constituents’ concerns and questions following changes to her district boundaries.
“You’re in good hands if you reside in this part of the district,” Clarke said. “The way that our boundaries are set, it is just an artificial mind. We want to make sure that we maintain quality assurances, so I wanted to come out to this edge of the constituency to really hear from you.”
Parts of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ district became Clarke’s district during redistricting last year. The two districts share a border, so the politicians were already used to working together on issues.
As a result of these district changes, however, Clarke said she felt it was necessary to meet with the new areas of her district to introduce herself and get to know some of her new constituents.
“We are seeing some very tumultuous times in America,” she said. “This is not, I think, the trajectory that we all had envisioned for the United States of America. I’m here to put you at ease that there are still some sane people left in Washington. There are those who are very focused on making sure that our agenda is moving our Nation forward.”
After speaking for a bit, attendees were invited to ask the congresswoman questions or share concerns with her. However, many of the concerns raised were state or city issues that don’t relate to her role in Congress.
One concern that a few audience members echoed was the legalization of cannabis. People are worried about cannabis, and specifically cannabis candies, being sold near schools or marketed to children. A nurse even shared that she has had to care for young children in the hospital who accidentally ate marijuana-infused gummies and got sick from them.
Clarke explained that, while she shares the community’s concerns, cannabis is a state issue and not something she can particularly deal with. “My personal opinion is that we weren’t prepared to roll out recreational use of marijuana,” she said. “I think that there should have been much more preparation, much more education up front and they needed to build out that agency to handle the demand that there was going to be ultimately in the City of New York for businesses. I don’t think a lot of that happened.”
At the federal level, cannabis is illegal. New York State made the choice to decriminalize it, to create a licensing program and allow for sales and public consumption. People should direct their cannabis concerns to their local politicians and Community Board 18.
Other people complained of high rents, inconsiderate neighbors and a lack of sense of community.