PEABODY — With concerns growing every day on issues such as opioid addiction, gun control, climate change, confrontations with North Korea, and the current state of the country, citizens from all over the North Shore were able to get some of their questions addressed late Tuesday evening.
Concerned citizens packed tightly into a room at Peabody City Hall, which didn’t even hold enough seats for all who showed up, for the arrival of Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. The excitement began even before the senator showed up, with petitioners outside ready to jump at whoever walked toward the city hall’s front doors.
“Raise Up Massachusetts has been organizing across the state and trying to get this petition on the ballot for 2018 that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and increase it a dollar a year until we get up to 2022,” said Renee Keaney, a Marblehead native and retired social worker. “Our second petition is for paid family medical leave, which would give workers an opportunity to have 16 weeks of pay in case they have an ill family member or a baby they have to take care of.”
As the chaos of everyone arriving finally settled, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt had the final say before Markey took the stage.
“I’m very proud of the working class city of Peabody and our melting pot community that is filled with caring, like-minded people,” said Bettencourt.
Markey took the podium to roaring applause and began by stating he would be addressing four main issues, as well as any questions he could answer within the extended two-hour time limit.
“Opioid addiction is the modern day plague,” Markey began. “We have in Massachusetts, in the year of 2016, over 2,000 people who have died of an opioid overdose with 75 percent of those overdoses identified as having Fentanyl in them and President Trump still has yet to declare this a national crisis, so we need to be sure to give tools to the struggling citizens who need them.”
Many questions were about the Affordable Care Act and how the government is handling it, and Markey said his administration will do what it can to make sure that the ACA was kept intact, while also making it better suited to provide any services to those who may need them.
One of the biggest concerns within Markey’s platform, as well as citizens who had prepared questions, was with gun control laws and how they should be handled considering the recent Las Vegas shootings.
“We have to ensure that bump stocks are banned going forward because something that turns a semi-automatic into a machine gun is something that was not intended by the 2nd Amendment,” he said. “The NRA has a hold on Republicans in the White House and we need to stop this.”
The Senator then praised Massachusetts’ strict gun laws and how because of them the state has one of the lowest gun crime rates in the country.
While most in the room cheered for Markey’s remarks on gun control, Carol Skanning of Waltham had other concerns.
“While the nation is focusing on guns, we are being distracted from the importance of our budget,” she said.
Markey reassured her that his administration shared the same concerns of the budget and its effect on hard-working taxpayers.
“We have to stop this budget alluding more tax breaks to the one percentile because most of the people in this room will be the ones with the tax increase,” he said.
One of Markey’s most passionate projects lies within climate change. Markey is a huge advocate of the fast-paced growing industry of renewable solar energy and how it can help the negative effects of climate change.
“There were 50,000 workers hired last year in the solar industry which has made it the fastest growing and expanding job industry out there,” he said. “The President doesn’t understand the job opportunities that are open here.”
Markey’s final discussion was of President Trump’s very public confrontation with North Korea and the effects it could have on the country.
“It is not possible to fight a second North Korean War because if it becomes nuclear that will turn catastrophic very quickly,” he said. “We have a president who doesn’t believe in diplomacy and who is moving in a rapid pace towards confrontation that could quickly spin out of control.”
As the crowd began to cheer in agreement with Markey’s perspective, some began to yell for President Trump’s impeachment and a possible office run from Markey himself in 2020.
“What we are faced with right now is someone whose views are unfortunately shared with some others in our country,” he said. “I will hit the pinata until every ounce of information regarding the Russian investigation is out for the public, and then we can talk about an impeachment.”