Small business owners from Bristol Borough shared ideas with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick Monday afternoon as part of a bipartisan roundtable. More than a dozen business owners asked questions and put forth suggestions.
Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY) joined the discussion for a district swap with Fitzpatrick to walk in each other’s shoes. He answered questions about healthcare, immigration, and grid lock in Washington D.C.
“I just want to thank everybody for coming today,” said Bristol Borough Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe. “We all know Brian and how much he does for the borough. We have a good, bipartisan working relationship, and I think Tom can speak on that behalf because he’s a Democrat from New York. It shows how Tom and Brian are trying to work together in Washington to bring Democrats and Republicans together.”
Bill Pezza, who chairs Raising the Bar and whose son owns the Itri Wood Fired Restaurant on Mill Street, attended the meeting. He put forward a recommendation formed with the local Economic Development Committee for Comcast and Verizon to provide free internet to start ups in return for a federal tax credit.
Paulette Kasmer, owner of Polka Dot Parlor just a few doors down from Itri, voiced her desire for billboards along local highway exits. They would advertise all of Historic Bristol Borough to passing New York motorists.
“That would be very beneficial, especially in the summer time for restaurants, shops, for all of us to have that traffic come down and visit us,” she said. “Even if it’s just to walk down the street while they’re going somewhere else. There is a lot of traffic we are missing and it’s missing us.”
Other owners raised concerns about vacant buildings acting as eyesores, rising federal interest rates, and flooding. The issue of water coming from reserves in New York took especially solid hold as it affected everyone in the room from Bristol Borough and Suozzi is from New York.
At one point, Suozzi asked the room if they supported a minimum wage hike. While most opposed a $15 per hour goal, even reached over time, most supported a smaller increase.
Fitzpatrick and Suozzi are both vice-chairs for the problem solvers caucus in Congress. They are holding a Problem Solvers Panel together Monday night in hopes of working out solutions to national problems.