AUBURN — Democratic congressional candidate Juanita Perez Williams brought her campaign to Cayuga County Thursday.
Perez Williams, D-Syracuse, held a forum at the Boyle Center in Auburn. She met with about 30 seniors at the facility who listened to her as she shared details about her life and answered questions about health care, President Donald Trump and other issues.
During her hour-long appearance, Perez Williams pledged to push back against attempts to slash Medicare and Social Security benefits. She claimed the Republican-backed tax overhaul enacted late last year could raise the deficit and force Congress to look at other areas, such as social insurance programs, for budget cuts.
"We need someone to stand up to that," said Perez Williams, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District race.
Perez Williams supports the establishment of a single-payer health insurance system similar to Medicare or TRICARE, which is medical coverage available to military service members. As a U.S. Navy veteran, she is familiar with TRICARE. And while there are some flaws, she believes the program works.
She addressed the mass shootings that have occurred and the need to take action at the federal level to combat gun violence. She pledged to fight for gun safety reforms and said the AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle that has been used in several mass shootings, doesn't belong on the streets.
She criticized U.S. Rep. John Katko, the incumbent Republican congressman, for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association and for not pushing for tougher gun control laws.
"We've got to have someone we can trust," she said.
Infrastructure would be a priority for Perez Williams if she is elected to Congress. She questioned whether Katko, R-Camillus, is doing enough to bring federal funding to the district for infrastructure projects.
"Who is fighting to bring resources here?" she asked. "Who is fighting to make sure we have jobs?"
Perez Williams' biggest applause lines came when she mentioned her Navy service and when she urged the women in the room — nearly every attendee was a woman — to support her candidacy.
Earlier in the forum, she called for equal pay for women and being an example for other women.
"There is so much at stake for us. Help me do this," she said.
Perez Williams is one of two Democrats vying for the party's nomination. The other is Dana Balter, also of Syracuse. The primary is Tuesday, June 26.
The winner of the primary will have the Democratic line against Katko, R-Camillus, in the general election.