Kids quiz Gounardes on climate change, public safety at town hall

BENSONHURST — Children as young as five asked policy questions of State Sen. Andrew Gounardes at a special town hall the lawmaker hosted on Jan. 12.

The Kids’ Town Hall, a two-hour session sponsored by Gounardes, took place at Edward B. Shallow Intermediate School on 16th Avenue and featured a discussion on a wide variety of topics, including climate change, vaping, public safety and discrimination. The town hall was aimed at children from elementary school age to high school students.

The youngest person to ask Gounardes a question was a five-year-old who inquired about trash and littering in her neighborhood, according to the lawmaker’s office.

Gounardes, a Democrat, represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and several other Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods.

He came away from the town hall impressed by the questions the children asked.

“The kids of today will inherit the future we provide, and they deserve a seat at the table. Listening to young people inspires me and helps me focus on what’s important,” Gounardes said in a statement.

At one point, the town hall was interrupted by protesters, according to Gounardes, who wrote about the interruption on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, some anti-vaccine advocates disrupted the program, taking time away from the kids despite my repeated offer to meet with them after & were removed from the event. It’s a shame, but was necessary to continue & was out of respect for those who were waiting to ask Q’s,” Gounardes tweeted.

Despite the protest, Gounardes labeled the town hall a success and said he would like to host another one.

“I’m excited to continue hearing from young people about their ideas to change the world, and look forward to the next time we can do this,” he tweeted.

The session was designed to give youngsters the chance to ask questions of the local lawmaker on the issues they care about and to offer their ideas on how to make their communities and the world better places to live, according to the Gounardes’ office.

The town hall also included a resource fair. The participants included the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, the Sunrise Movement, the Board of Elections and the Department of Health.

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