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Andrew Yang connects with voters at Peterborough Town Hall Friday night

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang holds a town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang holds a town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang holds a town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang holds a town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang holds a town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • About 200 people turned out for an Andrew Yang town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Donna Hanley of Peterborough talks to Andrew Yang about losing her son to the opioid crisis at Yang’s town hall in Peterborough Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Donna Hanley of Peterborough talks to Andrew Yang about losing her son to the opioid crisis at Yang’s town hall in Peterborough Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang hugs Donna Hanley of Peterborough after she talked about losing her son to the opioid crisis at Yang’s town hall in Peterborough Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang hugs Donna Hanley of Peterborough after she talked about losing her son to the opioid crisis at Yang’s town hall in Peterborough Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang stumps at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • About 200 people turned out for an Andrew Yang town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Matthew Robinson-Liu of Mason asks presidential hopeful Andrew Yang about how he would pay for his proposed universal income at a Yang town hall in Peterborough Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • About 200 people turned out for an Andrew Yang town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • About 200 people turned out for an Andrew Yang town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang talks with a voter in the selfie line after his town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Evelyn Yang joins her husband, presidential candidate Andrew Yang, at his town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Evelyn Yang joins her husband, presidential candidate Andrew Yang, at his town hall at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Hinsdale mother and daughter Susan and Shelly Lynde get a selfie with Andrew Yang and his wife Evelyn at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

  • The McCall family of Peterborough get a selfie with Andrew Yang at the Peterborough Town House Friday night. Staff photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/11/2020 1:19:16 PM

Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang connected with voters during his town hall in the Peterborough Town House Friday night.

Some moments with the 200-person crowd were big and boisterous like the standing ovation at the end of his stump speech. Other moments brought tears when he gave a hug to a Peterborough woman who’s family has been ravaged by the opioid addiction crisis. And one voter said he felt safe admitting he is a Republican to the crowd when he was tapped to ask a question. Not something he would have been comfortable doing at a Bernie Sanders rally, he said.

Yang last stumped in Peterborough to a packed room at Post and Beam brewery in September.

Friday night, Yang was introduced first by Steve Marchand, former mayor of Portsmouth and candidate for Governor of New Hampshire in 2016 and 2018, and then his wife Evelyn Yang, who has recently joined Yang on the campaign trail.

Marchand touted Yang’s ability to attract 2016 Donald Trump voters as well as potential 2020 Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren voters to his campaign and used something his mother told him as an example. “She voted for Trump in 2016. And she said, ‘If Andrew Yang is the nominee, well, I’m voting for Andrew Yang.’ She said, ‘If Biden’s the nominee I’m voting for Donald Trump.’ She said, ‘If Elizabeth Warren is the nominee I’m volunteering for Donald Trump.’ Now that’s not an insult to the other two candidates. … The reality is we’ve got to win the election.”

Yang stands alone from most of the other democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential primary. His campaign talking points include his proposal for a universal basic income for all Americans and that in 2016 Trump understood the pain and hardships of many Americans when he used his famous slogan, “Make America great again,” and Hillary Clinton got it wrong when her response was, “‘America’s already great.’ … That response did not work because it did not acknowledge the severity and depth and reality of the problems that we are facing here in our communities,” Yang said.

Trump won the presidency because he won the swing states, states that have lost millions of manufacturing jobs over the past few decades. But most everyday people are still struggling, he said.

“Right now we’re being told how great things are,” Yang said. But life expectancy has declined in the United States for the past three years in a row with drug overdoses and suicides on the rise. And, yes, corporate profits are experiencing record highs, but what is that worth when life expectancy is going down, he said.

“We have these massive problems that have been building like climate change, and the winner take-all-economy and our political polarization and dysfunction. We have to turn it around as quickly as possible for the sake of our kids,” Yang said. “It’s been a long three years, but it’s about to end.”

Yang then rallied the crowd to their feet with his slogan, “Make America think hard.”

A handful of voters were able to ask a question of Yang, including Donna Hanley of Peterborough who said she knows little about Yang other than she thought he did well in the last televised debate and that someone had left a flyer about the town hall at her door.

“I know nothing about you. I’m an Independent voter,” she said, but added his comments about the decline in manufacturing and increase in mental health problems, addiction, and early death resonate with her.

“You mentioned something very dear to my heart,” she said. “Because I grew up in Northern New Hampshire, in Berlin. I worked in the paper mills up there that closed.”

Hanley said her two brothers also lost their jobs when the paper mill closed.

Then she shared her deep pain, “I lost a son to opioid addiction. I lost a nephew to suicide,” while he was dealing an opioid addiction, she said. “Northern New Hampshire probably has one of the highest rates in the opioid crisis.”

Now living in Peterborough Hanley said she continues to see obstacles to people seeking treatment for addiction. “It’s not going away. We are losing our young, because of the opioid crisis, because of healthcare, because we can’t afford it.”

Yang said the opioid crisis is a “government failing of epic proportions.”

“As your president, I will do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t happen to another family,” Yang said.

And while no amount of money is going to bring her son back, the settlement from the drug companies should be used to fund treatment, he said.

“If you want treatment you should be able to get treatment,” Yang said.

After the event, Hanley said she left Berlin in 1996, but that is where both her son and nephew died. She said she has been helping another nephew of hers who is dealing with heroin addiction. It’s a way for her to cope with the death of her son, she said.

When Matthew Robinson-Liu of Mason got the mic, he told Yang he likes to listen to all sides and said he felt comfortable admitting to the town hall that he is a registered Republican. He asked how Yang would fund his plan to pay every citizen $1,000 a month. Yang said he would start with a tax on businesses currently not paying taxes, such as Amazon. He also has plans to save money on incarceration and services for the homeless that burden communities financially. He also said the “trickle-up economy,” spurs volunteerism, spending and new businesses.

“The trickle-up economy largely pays for itself,” Yang said.

He added we have to change the American mentality that banks are more important and more worthy of a bailout than people. “When we bailed out the banks for $4 trillion dollars, do you remember anyone looking around saying, ‘Where are we going to get the $4 trillion?’ No, so we have to look at ourselves the same way.”

Standing in the selfie line to meet Yang after the town hall, Robinson-Liu said he liked what he heard and said he would “deeply consider voting for him. … He is probably the only reasonable candidate out of all of the Democratic nominees. I would say Yang and Tulsi Gabbard are the only ones with their heads screwed on.”

Hinsdale mother and daughter Susan and Shelly Lynde sat in the front row during the town hall and afterward stood in line to have a selfie taken with Yang and his wife Evelyn. They had come to check Yang out and Susan, a registered Independent, said she was won over. She had written in Sanders onto the 2016 ballot for president.

Her daughter, a registered Democrat, said she had come to the event as a Sanders supporter, is now considering Yang.

“I liked what he said,” Shellie said of Yang. “I was in Bernie’s court.”

Both women said they liked that Yang is not just another old white man. It’s time for someone young and diverse, they said.

“He fits all my boxes,” Susan said of Yang. “Here’s to a better life.”


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