U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks just completed his seventh month serving parts of Valley Stream and has made several trips to the area to familiarize himself with the people and issues of the community. On Monday, Meeks visited the Valley Stream Democratic Club where he spoke about his recent experiences in Washington D.C. and fielded questions from local residents and club members.
Meeks, a Democrat from St. Albans, was re-elected to his eighth term in November, receiving nearly 90 percent of the vote, and now represents the redrawn 5th District, which includes parts of Valley Stream, Elmont, Inwood and Floral Park, as well as southeast Queens.
The discussion on Monday touched on a bevy of issues, both national and local. Meeks said one of primary goals in coming to speak at the club’s headquarters on Brooklyn Avenue, and in the future, is to strengthen the group’s membership. He added that Democratic leaders can only go as far as their local Democratic clubs.
“I’m here to listen to you and to work with you within the Democratic sphere so that we could make an accomplishment together,” he said. “I’m a team player and I want to jump on and make sure that we’re working collectively together.”
For Meeks, who served the southeast section of Queens for seven terms prior to the congressional maps being redrawn to include some of southwest Nassau County, getting to know his new constituent base is a work in progress, adding that he has a lot to learn about Nassau County politics. However, he said, he was in a good place to find out what the issues are. “There’s nobody better to learn from than the local Democratic club,” Meeks said.
Valley Stream Deputy Mayor Dermond Thomas asked the congressman about an issue on the minds of many local residents: the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps. In July, the village board unanimously approved a plan put forward by FEMA — a revision of the controversial map that took effect in 2009. According to village officials, 1,549 homes will come out of the high-risk flood zone, while 855 homes will remain in it.