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By Evelyn Colon
Have you ever met a senator? Face to face? Cameras off, no handlers whispering in their ear. Well, I have. Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Senator Robert “Bob” Casey, Jr.
Lessons from a father still ring true today
Excited energy filled the room as members of the tight-knit Lebanon community gathered at the Latino-owned travel business of Cesar Liriano, State Representative candidate for the 101st District. The crowd is mixed: a couple who lives down the street, a Lebanon County Democratic Committee Member, a professor at a local collegiate institution, a councilman, but the energy was the same. Senator Robert “Bob” Casey, Jr., incumbent candidate for United States Senate, was arriving for a tour of local businesses and a taste of local food. Doors opened and smiles widened as the Senator toured the small City, interacting with patrons at a local barber shop, bakery, and families sitting on their front porches in town.
The Barber Shop he visited on 9th Street continued business as he arrived, shaking hands and listening to stories. Lebanon is a humble City with a Latino population on the rise. Data USA reports the population of Lebanon, PA is now more than 40% Latino.
“These businesses are an extension of and a great example of what the Latino community brings to our Commonwealth and our country.” Sen. Casey commented during his tour of multiple Latino-owned businesses on Friday. “The Latino community brings a work ethic that is so significant, a community that puts a primacy on family and keeping families together, and it’s a community that has strong faith.”
In personal conversations with constituents, stories and experiences came to the fore. A grandfather on dialysis, a family member stranded without electricity in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and concerns for the intolerance of the current administration.
“To use a phrase that my father always used, ‘The family of Pennsylvania must leave no one out, and must leave no one behind,’” Sen.Casey replied. It still rings true today for Casey, but also for members of the Lebanon community.
Senator Casey spoke with one resident about the trauma of not knowing family members’ well-being in the days, weeks, and eventually months following Hurricane Maria. During that time, the island was without power and the status of family members remained unknown for many residents.
“We have to help each other, support each other, and enact policies that will be in the best interests of all,” Casey shared. Casey supports a proposed housing bill that would help victims of Hurricane Maria sort out issues that are holding back critical aid for displaced families.