Mr. Hall Heads to Rye

check out Pictures of the Event Here:  John Hall Pictures


If you want to be the most popular guy in a room, here’s a trick—run for congress and win.  Proof of this phenomenon was evident this morning at the Rye Town Hilton where more than 100 of Westchester’s business leaders gathered to imbibe the words of John Hall, the newly elected congressman for the northern part of the county.

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Hall, himself the small-business owner of a record company, addressed members of the Westchester Business Council on three major topics of interest to the group—tax reform, the environment, and transportation—before taking questions on a range of issues including labor relations and housing costs.  As is typical for Hall, whose commanding stage presence is well tuned from years of performing for the band Orleans (of “Still the One” and “Let There be Music” fame), guests were impressed enough with the congressman to award him a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.


So what’s on Hall’s mind these days?  He believes that the alternative minimum tax is slowing the growth of small business.  Hall pointed out that Westchester County has more households paying the alternative minimum tax than any other county in the country.  The solution—index the tax rate to rise with wages.  Also troubling the freshman congressman is pollution, and the national security ramifications that come with supporting an energy source derived from semi-friendly regions.  Hall, who co-founded the group Musicians for Safe Energy, ran on a platform that promised to move the country towards reusable energy sources.  Hall himself powers his house with wind energy and is doing his best to promote similar organic energy use (though this was a somewhat contentious point to some in the crowd who were pro-Indian Point).  Finally, Hall, who was actually late because of traffic, addressed the mounting commuting problems in Westchester.  He discussed, to the glee of the crowd, renovating the Tappan Zee Bridge and adding more commuter rail lines to the region.


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Hall also touched on other issues important both to him.  Regarding education, Hall acknowledged that property taxes needed to fund “Federal unfunded education mandates” are “really hurting the region.”  “We need to make the area a more affordable place to live as a well as a profitable place to do business,” he said.  As for the war, the United states Representative for the 19th district spent about a minute reminding the audience that he didn’t support the war from the get-go, and that “we’re not the ones” to fix the problems in Iraq.  (We think he should have said “we’re still not the ones” to fix the problem in Iraq, to placate those hoping he would sing.)


As Hall finished his roughly 30-minute address, he was swarmed with area leaders of commerce who wanted to shake his hand and briefly advocate for their cause.  It was no surprise as the approachable congressman emphasized his desire for feedback throughout his address.  Indeed, he actively solicited e-mailed contributions of ideas.  This attitude doesn’t hurt in a job where winning reelection is almost as hard as winning your first election.  If Hall’s voters are anywhere near as inspired by Hall as Westchester’s business leaders were, Hall should have no problem keeping his seat for many years.

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