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Owens says jobs are his top priority; citizens air opinions on gun control

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens talks about gun control measures with area citizens at a public forum held Tuesday March 26 in Glens Falls. Owens said job creation and bipartisan cooperation were currently two of his top objectives.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens talks about gun control measures with area citizens at a public forum held Tuesday March 26 in Glens Falls. Owens said job creation and bipartisan cooperation were currently two of his top objectives. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Gun control, job creation, economic prosperity and legislative cooperation were the chief topics at a public forum featuring U.S. Rep. Bill Owens held downtown Tuesday March 26.

About 80 area citizens attended the forum, held in Crandall Library and sponsored jointly by the Glens Falls Economic Group and the Adirondack Gateway Council.

Wayne Underwood, a hydroponic farmer from Shushan, confronted Owens on his support for raising the minimum wage.

“If the higher minimum wage is put in place, some of my employees are going to lose their jobs,” he said, citing rising costs in his business.

Owens responded that he was in favor of establishing offsetting tax incentives for business owners, so they’d not experience an overall increase in payroll expenses.

Noting that the national economy is based primarily on consumer spending, he said that a boost in the minimum wage would spur prosperity as well as boosting the quality of life for those with entry-level jobs.

“Balance is needed,” he said. “My objective is to work both ends.”

Renny Devine of Queensbury complained about $50 billion of taxpayers’ dollars being spent overseas, while various persistent problems remained domestically.

Owens responded that while he didn’t necessarily approve of all the individual foreign aid allocations, that the money was spent chiefly to maintain order internationally.

“These expenditures represent an attempt to stabilize countries so we don’t get into more conflict or put us into national-security jeopardy,” he said.

Alan Hall Sr. of Warrensburg complained about how New York State’s new gun law was passed without public input or proper review from state legislators — and that he’d fight any government-mandated surrender of his weapons.

“It’ll be a cold day in Hades before I vote for another Democrat,” he said, noting he possessed three guns that were now categorized as assault weapons.

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