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Locals across political spectrum call for unity

Democrats and Republicans alike are hoping the nation finds its way as a new president is inaugurated amidst a tumultuous period that has most recently included violent protests outside the Capitol Building and impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

“I think it is going to be a difficult time to heal,” Paul Nyman, a Loyalsock Township supervisor and longtime Republican supporter, said. “They say time heals all things, but I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult.”

Nyman said he wants to be positive regarding the state of the nation.

“I have friends on both sides of the political aisle. There has been so much hurt,” he said. “The name-calling has to quit.”

Alison Hirsch, local community organizer and Democratic supporter, said, “I am worried about security for the inauguration, but hopeful and excited to see a president ready to hit the ground running, with a slew of serious professionals ready to serve him and no family members, no inexperienced hangers-on.”

Hirsch said she was happy to see 10 Republicans vote their conscience on the impeachment.

“This wasn’t a matter of politics or retribution, but a matter of securing the republic for the future to make sure it never happens again.”

Nyman said the impeachment process began without sufficient evidence presented. Some people want to heal the nation, but on their own terms, he added.

David Raker, a Williamsport attorney and Lycoming County Democratic Committeeman, said he is hopeful that the nation does heal after what it has been through.

Nyman pointed to the struggling economy and COVID-19 as the pressing issues that continue to face the country.

Lycoming County Democratic Party Chair Linda Sosniak noted the historical nature of the inauguration and the commencement of Joe Biden as the forty-sixth President of the U.S.

“It will be an opportunity for Biden’s inaugural address to unify the people. We are facing extreme times with the COVID epidemic and a ravished economy. Moving forward, I believe it is critical that the government agencies work together to get the COVID vaccine to all Americans and provide relief to the many struggling businesses.”

She called for people to put political parties aside and to improve living and working conditions of all people.

“Legislators need to reach across the aisle and work on legislation that works for everyone especially the middle and working class,” she said.

In the meantime, she noted the county Democratic Party supports punitive action against Trump.

“If he does not resign, we support Congressional efforts to punish him. He should not be eligible for the honors and benefits allocated to past presidents. He must be held legally responsible for his subversive rhetoric in the months and days leading up the attempted insurrection.

“Trump’s words and speech have consequences. Freedom of speech does not give anyone a free pass to falsely yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater any more than it gives one the freedom to lie and deceive for their own gain. The election was fair and decisive: the courts have ruled; state legislative bodies, many of them Republican-held, have certified their results. Elections have winners and losers. The American people made their choice. Attempting to overrun our constitutional democracy by inciting mobs is illegal.”

Sosniak said Trump’s actions have proven to be a disservice to his law-abiding supporters, many of whom reside in Lycoming County.

“We are embarrassed for them. We are angry about what he has done to all of us. He has proven himself to be a danger to our country. If he was an honorable man, he would resign.”

Williamsport City Council President Randall Allison, a Republican, noted the deep divide of the nation and how it needs to look ahead.

“One of the ancillary issues deals with social media and restrictions and the effects of the COVID-19 virus still around,” he said. “Those kinds of things are not going to be settled easily. They will lend themselves to disruptions in the normalcy of life. I am hoping we can come to a place where we can discuss these things without rancor, anger and destruction that exists.”

He called for civil discussion and setting common goals. He remains cautiously optimistic, however.

“We have a new administration that has voiced a need to bring healing to the nation,” he said. “I will be waiting to see what that means and what form it takes. We do need healing, but that means an outreach to every American. That is not an easy thing to do, but I believe it can be done.”

People, he said, want to see the nation and government work together and bridge differences without people demonizing each other.

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