Congressman TJ Cox visited Kern County Saturday for a town hall in Delano — a city that hasn’t had a town hall with a representative in more than 40 years.
Cox, who represents the 21st Congressional District, spoked on a number of topics, including clean drinking water, education and veteran services.
“We are all here for one reason, and it is to serve you and to be as effective and responsive as we can to your needs,” Cox told the community members.
Cox advocated for more funding for education and better access to higher education in the Central Valley.
“What we need to do is make sure that all of our public schools have got sufficient and adequate funding,” he said. “We have to deliver what they need.”
Residents asked Cox if there are plans to bring more colleges to the Central Valley.
“We’ll certainly work with community college districts in the state to establish more [community colleges] throughout the valley,” he said.
Cox spoke of a number of his actions. He voted to pass in May the Blue Water Navy Bill, which extends the disability and health benefits of U.S. Navy veterans who served offshore during the Vietnam War and were exposed to Agent Orange, a dioxin-laden herbicide, which has been found to cause respiratory cancers, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease, according to one of Cox’s newsletters. The bill is awaiting in vote by the Senate.
Cox was also excited to share he voted in favor of H.R. 6, also known as the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide permanent legal status for DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. The bill passed the house and hit the senate floor Wednesday.
“These are young men and women who are just as American and just as citizen as my own kids sitting here today,” Cox said.
Many community members asked Cox about a better water infrastructure in the central valley. Cox assured his constituents he is aware of the community’s need for clean water.
“You can’t have good health unless you have clean water,” he said, “That’s really an issue here in Delano.”
Cox also spoke about the importance of sustainable energy and Medicare.
“Medicare and Social Security are certain benefits that have been earned over a lifetime of work, and the people that earn these benefits deserve them, so that’s something we’re going to absolutely protect.”
Assembly member Rudy Salas attended the meeting to hear the needs of the community.
“We know the valley has many, many needs, but we need great representatives that are going to help see that vision come true, and we have that in our congressman.”
The Town Hall went on for an hour, and many felt that was not enough time with the congressman.
“I feel that more questions could have been asked,” said Delano City councilman Bryan Osorio. “I think Congressmen Cox hinted at sharing the same sentiment towards the end. Nonetheless, I am glad that a regional representative took the time to do outreach and host a Town Hall in our city.”
Though Cox covered a variety of topics, some felt that some of the answers and discussions were surface level and predictable.
“He would state how this current administration was not keeping their ‘promises, (but) I would have loved to hear about how he would better the issues, instead of [hearing him] state the defects of the Trump administration,” said Sal Solorio. “I admire and am glad the Congress Member TJ Cox held the town hall in Delano, but I would’ve loved to hear about issues that are really affecting our Central Valley communities, such as immigration, youth and water.”
One of Cox’s staffers told the community if they have more questions, they can reach out by called Cox’s office.
South Kern Sol is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, youth reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.