Elizabeth Warren holds Town Hall at GHS, preaches empathy

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Alexander Oaks

Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the crowd inside of GHS’s Putney auditorium

CAROLINE ENOS and ALEXANDER OAKS

When asked to give three words that GHS students should remember in order to survive today’s tense political climate, Senator Elizabeth Warren immediately responded with a smile.

“I only need one- persist.”

Senator Warren fields questions from reporters.

Warren has been one of President Trump’s most vocal political opponents throughout his campaign and presidency. Reiterating many stances that have been criticized by the president at a December 16th town hall held in GHS’s Putney auditorium, Warren addressed public concerns ranging from healthcare to climate change.

“I wanted to be here because it is a tough time in Washington, and I wanted to come with a very special thank you for all of you,” said Warren, referring to the political involvement of Gloucester individuals.

But the most prominent point for discussion made by Warren and other political leaders was America’s need for widespread empathy.

“At this time in our country’s history, it has never been more important to have respectful, engaged dialogue,” said Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, who was the opening speaker for the event. “I’m a Republican. Ann Margaret is a Democrat. And this is the bipartisan discussion we have to be having.”

Like Tarr, Warren and Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken stressed that in order to initiate change and bipartisan cooperation, individuals must first understand their opposition.

“We’ve got to reach out to other people,” said Warren as she outlined how to create a more united nation. “Liberals can’t just talk with liberals. Conservatives can’t just talk with conservatives.”

“Not everyone is going to like everyone, and that doesn’t matter,” said Romeo Theken. “There are no more parties. This is about Massachusetts. This is about humans.”

Community members in attendance were allowed to ask Warren a question if their number was picked. Moderated by State Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante, almost a dozen individuals got a chance to speak. Many used their time to address this nation’s need for empathy.

“I am human,” said one man when asked to state his name before posing a question to the senator. “We are all human. But when we watch the news, it doesn’t feel like we’re being seen as human.”

When asked about the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare and the danger this puts the status of medicaid in, Warren stressed that citizens and leaders cannot disregard a program that does not help them currently, as it could help them in the future.

“Two out of three people in nursing homes receive care under medicaid, just like many infants in the NICU,” said Warren. “We are a part of a great American family. We will together build as strong a boat as we can to bring us through the hardest times.”

As Mayor Romeo recounted, Warren has maintained this attitude since she was first elected in 2012.

“She is supporting our [fishing] culture and industry,” said Romeo Theken.

According to the Mayor, Warren made a campaign promise to protect fishing in Gloucester and support the families and communities that depended on it. She created fishery relief legislation that passed in the Senate before being voted down in the House in 2013- the first legislation she proposed in office.

“She has my respect,” Romeo Theken continued.

The assembled crowd eagerly await Senator Warren’s presentation.

Warren’s actions in Congress and have gained her a growing group of supporters, especially among millennials.  

“After [the Town Hall] I felt really proud that she is the person representing Massachusetts in Washington,” said GHS junior Marisa Orlando. “And I think the things she said applies to everyone, because everyone can use them as a reminder to persist in everyday life.”

Mayor Romeo Theken presents Senator Warren with gifts from local businesses.

Warren and the other speakers continuously encouraged the public to take political action, as Gloucester is a community that has already made significant political and social impacts.

“In Gloucester and in this part of the state, we have a little bit of a reputation. We’re not quiet,” said Tarr. “We get involved. That has been the tradition of this port city. And this tradition is being applied today.”

“Stay engaged with the issue that pulled you into this room,” stressed Warren. ”We have to start a personal conversation.”

Massachusetts State Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante looks on as Senator Warren addresses the crowd.
Gillnetter Staff Members (from left) Alexander Oaks, Caroline Enos, and Danielle Denman pose with Senator Warren (middle left).