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Local support — and some criticism — for Trump's State of the Union address

Local support — and some criticism — for Trump's State of the Union address

Saratoga Springs man attends event
Local support — and some criticism — for Trump's State of the Union address
From left: U.S. Reps. John Faso, Elise Stefanik and Paul Tonko.
Photographer: Daily Gazette file photos

Local Republican members of Congress liked President Donald Trump's words Tuesday night.

But a guest in Washington for Trump's first State of the Union address was hoping for more words on opioid addiction.

Brendan Norton of Saratoga Springs, who went through addiction and subsequent recovery after a severe leg injury in 2005, was the guest of U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, at Trump's first State of the Union address.

"He kind of focused mainly on drug dealers and getting them off the street," Norton said in a late night phone interview. "That's a huge part of the problem, don't get me wrong, but I feel the other part of the problem is the over-prescribing of the opioid painkillers. I think there needs to be some changes that need to go along with that."

Norton wanted to hear more about funding for programs that help people with addiction. He wanted to hear about easier access for treatment programs.

Norton, whose seat in the gallery was next to the famous Bill Nye — "the science guy" — declined to say whether he's a Trump supporter. He's focused on helping people with addiction issues.

"I'm still going to be out there trying to help as many people as I can, whether he [Trump] is doing anything about it or not," Norton said.

Tonko was seated near the president's podium, and exchanged words with Trump right before and after the address.

Representative John Faso, R-Kinderhook, released a statement shortly after the address concluded:

"President Trump delivered a unifying address which proposed ideas and initiatives the nation can rally around. I am encouraged that the administration is planning to aggressively invest in needed transportation and broadband infrastructure along with plans to significantly improve the state of our military readiness."

Faso also hopes for cooperation.

"While differences will remain between Democrats and Republicans over the path forward," he said, "it is my hope that we can compromise our differences and enact a positive agenda for America."

U.S. Rep Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who represents New York's 21st Congressional District, also had a guest Tuesday night. She brought Sarah Pratt of South Glens Falls, daughter of late New York State Trooper Tim Pratt.

Stefanik believes the economy has grown stronger under Trump and veterans have been helped. She also liked his words on national defense.

In her statement, Stefannik said she was glad the president addressed the opioid crisis.

"As a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, I continue to work with my colleagues to increase awareness and educate the public, support those who are suffering and lead common sense legislative solutions to keep opioid addiction under control," she said.

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