By Cassius Shuman
It was smooth sailing under sunny skies for Congressman James Langevin, who took the Block Island Ferry over to the island to visit with his constituents on Sept. 20. Langevin toured the island, as is customary each year, visiting the Block Island School, the Block Island Power Company, North Light Fibers, the Medical Center, and The National Hotel, where he participated in a meet and greet luncheon hosted by the Democratic Town Committee.
Topics that Langevin discussed during his visit were the current state of affairs in Washington under the Trump administration, the importance of voting in November, gun control, the affordable care act and healthcare, environmental protection and climate change, the importance of creating jobs, higher wages, student loans, and education. Langevin, who has served for 18 years in Congress, said he was “optimistic about the upcoming November election.”
While speaking with The Block Island Times at the school, Langevin said his message to the public heading into the mid-term election is to, “Get out and vote. I’m hoping there is a good voter turnout, and it sends a message to Washington that the direction we’re going in is the wrong direction.”
Langevin, a Democrat, said the Republicans in Congress are ineffective in standing up to the administration, and are a detriment to social, economic and environmental programs. “Look at the tax reform bill that was passed by this administration; it’s written to benefit corporations and the wealthiest one percent,” he said.
During a discussion with the Student Council, teacher Jayne Conway asked Langevin if a “blue wave” happens during the upcoming election, will “impeachment be on the table?” A blue wave would mean that the Democratic Party was elected to a majority in both houses of Congress in November.
“There is a possibility of a blue wave,” but it is “too early to think about impeachment” of the President, he said. “We need Robert Mueller to finish his (Special Counsel) investigation, and then we’ll go from there.” Mueller, who is Special Counsel for the Department of Justice, is leading a law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Student Mac Brown asked the congressman what his hardest decision has been during his tenure in Congress. Langevin said voting on the Iraq War, which he opposed, was a really “tough” decision. “I had to weigh all of the information, and whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
After meeting with the Student Council, Langevin spent time chatting with fellow wheelchair user Mason Miro, who has been recognized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a special Ambassador. The two chatted about their wheelchair designs, school, and Block Island. Mason, who is a fourth grade student, told Langevin that his favorite class was gym.
“I’m glad you’re raising awareness (about Muscular Dystrophy),” said Langevin of Miro. “I’m really proud of you.”
“We all are,” said school Principal Kristine Monje.
Town Council members who attended Langevin’s lunch at The National echoed his sentiments about voting and lauded his appearance on the island. First Warden Ken Lacoste was not in attendance. At one point, Langevin was pulled away from the luncheon to speak on his cellphone with Cristopher Krebs, who is Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
Sen. Susan Sosnowski, who represents Block Island, and toured the island with Langevin, said, “I think it’s really important that the congressman continues to support Block Island. He is always reachable on issues concerning the island.” Sosnowski added: “I don’t think a lot of people know what Jim deals with every day. He deserves a lot of credit — he’s an inspiration.”
Councilor Chris Willi said, “Voting is crucial. Get your two cents in,” before noting that Langevin “does a good job of getting out into the community.”
“It shows that he cares. It’s a good representation of listening to people, and experiencing different things,” remarked Councilor Sven Risom.
Councilor Martha Ball said it was “good to have someone representing us who comes and visits the island. It’s always a good connection to have.”