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GOP PA-04 Candidate Nascimento Takes Questions at Town Hall

About 30 people came to Blue Bell Tuesday for a town hall held by Republican congressional candidate Christian Nascimento.

Nascimento, 48, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), discussed help for American businesses and keeping the country safe.

“Small businesses are the life blood of the American economy,” he said. Supply chain issues are plaguing businesses, including Open Tier Systems, an IT service company that hosted the town hall.  That issue, coupled with inflation and the losses from COVID-19 shutdowns, has hit the U.S. economy hard.

“That’s the story I hear time and time again, whether it’s someone that works for a big national company or the barber shop down the street. Things have gotten more expensive.”

“There’s a common denominator to all of this, and it’s the failed policies of this administration and this Congress,” said Nascimento.  “The president has to be honest. This is not Vladimir Putin’s price hike. You can’t blame all of this on a mad dictator…And the Congress blindly goes along with (Biden). The representative that we currently have in this seat (Dean) votes with the president 100 percent of the time. So she owns this.”

“I believe we can develop a pro-growth agenda and a pro-growth economy,” said Nascimento.

“A lot of it is making sure the American people, whether they’re born in Norristown or Narberth, have a good job, and can build a good life.”

He called for reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, particularly small businesses and for an increase in the R&D (research and development) tax credits.

“Just think of our government focused on things we need to solve for and that didn’t cede AI (artificial intelligence) to China and other folks who are our adversaries,” he said. Nascimento also called for increased oil production in the U.S. to ease “the pain at the pump,” while investing in renewables.

Instead of using our natural resources Biden canceled the Keystone pipeline and is begging for oil in the Middle East, putting America at the “economic moral and national security mercy of our adversaries.”

Nascimento is a Montgomery County native and first-generation American.  After a career with Comcast, the father of four is running for office to serve the country and “give back,” he told Delaware Valley Journal.

“I’m going to be an independent voice for the people of the 4th (District),” he said. “I am going to go toe-to-toe with Democrats and I’m going to buck Republicans sometimes. I’m going to vote for what I believe is right.”

Whitpain resident Brian McCarthy, who owns Open Tier, asked Nascimento about the cyber security problems the country faces.  Nascimento said the country needs to invest in our digital infrastructure.

“We are woefully unprepared for this digital economy,” he said.  Mentioning the nuclear power plant in Limerick, he said anything connected to the internet could be hacked. “Power plants, business, homes, they’re all at risk,” he said. “The amount of harm those cyberattacks can do is breathtaking.”

“There has to be a response,” he said. “You cannot allow foreign actors to hack into government, to hack into individuals living in this country and allow them to get away with it. Right now, Putin, Xi, none of those folks expect there is going to be any repercussions. Because President Biden has shown time and time again they’re right.”

America also needs to compete with China’s “Belt and Road” policy. This country needs to bring back manufacturing so “we are not dependent on the Chinese” for essential products.

“Peace through strength is the only way to deal with China,” said Nascimento.

Local resident Scott Miller asked, “After Friday (Supreme Court decision on Roe) the whole point of the Democratic initiative is going to be a wild-eyed attack on everything, because of federalism, sending things back to the states to be determined, to be debated and voted on…How do you intend to deal with a wild-eyed onslaught?”

Nascimento said he would stay calm.

“We’ve got to change the way we’ve been doing things in the last year and a half,” he said. “The damage that’s being done to the economy and by extension to American families and ultimately to the country is just unprecedented. You may call me naïve but I believe that people are looking for leadership. The screaming and wild-eyed, I think that will work against (Democrats). The country was built on federalism.”

Blue Bell resident Katie Wenger asked about Second Amendment rights and school safety.

Nascimento said Dr. Oz, who is running for the Senate, has a great line, which the Second Amendment is second because it protects the First Amendment.

“In my mind the constitution says you have the right to bear arms,” he said. “If you’re like me and you’re pro-life, it’s not just pro-birth. It’s making sure that a child has an opportunity to live a life and be safe.”

“I’m not in favor of red flag laws because I think it’s too dangerous for a person’s individual liberty and the constitution says you can’t have your liberty taken away by unreasonable search and seizure.

“The problem we have with guns is…is enforcing the laws we have,” Nascimento said.

“When someone commits a crime with a gun, you have to arrest that person, and after you arrest them you have to prosecute them. That seems pretty basic. But that’s not happening in Philadelphia and it’s not happening in a lot of places.”

A former Methacton School Board president, he said security doors and armed resource officers would help.

“The way you respect life is you help people that are struggling,” he said. “That young man in Uvalde had clearly been struggling for a long time and showed a lot of signs of it and the system failed him. The issue in Uvalde in particular was not a gun issue. It was a mental crisis issue.”

Nascimento believes education and jobs go a long way toward preventing crime.

“You don’t have rampant crime if you have prospects,” said Nascimento. “If you look at what’s happening just down the road in Philadelphia. There are really only three problems in Philadelphia: Kenney, Krasner and Outlaw.”


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Radnor Residents Weigh In on Kratom at Town Hall

Is Kratom a dangerous gateway drug that may lead to addiction? Or a helpful, natural substance that can aid those suffering from chronic pain?

Residents sounded off at a March 3 town hall sponsored by the nonpartisan Radnor Advancement Group. The group brought together experts to talk about the issue after a store selling kratom opened without township permission then quickly closed at the site of a former Starbucks on Lancaster Avenue.

State Rep. Tracy Pennycuick  (R-Harleysville) promised residents to promote legislation to regulate kratom.  Her Kratom Consumer Protection Act would ban anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing any products that contain kratom while leaving it available to adults in need.

The evening opened with an excerpt from a documentary produced by Main Line TV filmmakers Jill Frechie and John Ricciutti entitled “Kensington in Crisis.” The presentation suggested that by allowing kratom into the community, doors would open for heroin addiction to flourish.

“Kensington— is thirteen miles that way. That’s not our town… could never be our town…,” said  Father Joseph Smith of the neighboring Saint Mary’s Church. Smith described his own brother’s struggles with addiction. “There was a time where communities seemed to have values… There was a time when anything didn’t go— standards of decency were naturally adhered to… there better be consequences [for CBD Kratom].”

Other speakers included Dr. Wade Berrettini, a professor of psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine, specializing in medical treatment of addictions; Dr. Asare Christian, MD, a graduate of  Harvard Medical School, who specializes in chronic pain management and medical cannabis titration; Samuel B. Dordick, a personal injury attorney who successfully tried a wrongful death case involving kratom;  Pennycuick, who is also a United States Army combat veteran as well as a legislator;  and Leslie Holt, founder, and CEO of A Child’s Light, a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation that provides funding for Chester County children in need of mental health treatment.

A couple of residents shouted that kratom should be banned entirely within the state for children and adults alike. “There are thousands of children and young adults who’ve already died!” exclaimed another concerned resident.

However, the mortality rates from kratom consumption remain low compared to several more widely accepted substances. According to the CDC, between 2016 and 2017, of the 91 deaths associated with kratom, all but seven victims had other drugs in their system.  In contrast, a 2019 CDC study found that, on average, 38 people died every single day died from prescription opioids. In the first half of 2021 alone, the CDC stated that 53,000 people had died from drug overdoses.

“I can see the danger in having this near our schools and churches, but the substance itself isn’t that dangerous… even caffeine kills more people. I just don’t think we should try to keep our kids sheltered from every single risk they come across in life. I know we all wanted that ice skating ban lifted,” said one resident when asked for comment.

Another resident said, “[In small doses kratom] is going to serve you like speed, like coke, like crack, and [in large doses] it’s going to serve as a depressant, like an opiate. So you have… a drug that’s not regulated, that’s serving two forms of a high. That is very dangerous to our community.” She added that while she couldn’t speak to any potential benefits the substance may offer to future addicts in recovery, its unregulated nature poses an apparent danger to the communities it enters.

Two other residents displayed two different THC and kratom products they’d easily purchased from nearby stores. One pointed out the colorful cereal-box mascots on the packaging, an apparent attempt to appeal to younger audiences. The second resident pointed out that nowhere on the kratom package he’d purchased was there an indication regarding dosage. “If you open this… what you see is a powder. How much of this powder are you supposed to use? Is it a pinch… is it a teaspoon full? No dosing recommendations,” he said.

Several people spoke out against banning kratom outright.

“Cigarettes aren’t banned… if you’re an adult you can go to war and shoot a gun…” said one person.

Others went further still.

“I’ve been consuming Kratom for seven years. I’m a United States Navy veteran, and I got addicted to opioids. Seven years ago, before I started kratom, I was one of the people on the streets in Kensington,” explained another person. While he did support a greater degree of regulation,  kratom had proven enormously helpful in his community. “Not all of us are addicts. There’s a lot of older people who have chronic pain… fibromyalgia, cancer— people are dying of cancer, and the pain meds aren’t helping them, but the kratom is… so for some of us, it’s very important and it is helping.”

Debates held over personal freedom and public safety are rarely simple. While the evening’s speakers were united in the call for kratom’s regulation, proponents of the substance argue that while the opioid crisis rages, every conceivable avenue for mitigation demands consideration.

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