Ryan Pelligrinelli / Equinox Staff

Emily Carstensen
Equinox Staff

Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Congressman Eric Swalwell’s Chief of Staff Alex Evans, both U.S Representatives in the democratic party, visited Keene State College on Wednesday, October 24 to discuss their democratic views and the importance of voting during the midterm elections.
The cost of higher education is something Congresswoman Kuster said is on her list of top priorities. Lowering the cost of higher education and making it more accessible for those who are looking to further their education is something she said is very important to her.
“Obviously the cost of higher education is on everybody’s mind. But whatever generation you are, you can relate to it that way. I think higher education is getting more and more out of reach for middle class American families and granite state families. There are a number of steps that we can take to be helpful, not the least bit which is helping you to finance the education in the first place,” Congresswoman Kuster said.
Congressman Eric Swalwell invited his Chief of Staff Alex Evans to speak on his behalf after Swalwell’s wife went into labor early Wednesday morning. Alex Evans spoke on Swalwell’s behalf and said Congressman Swalwell really believes in the importance of making higher education more affordable for those who wish to further their education.
“One of the things [Congressman Swalwell] talks about is how saddening it is that college now has become associated with debt. When we say college, people say debt. This is a bad word association. When I went to college, we said college and it meant opportunity, and we need to change that back. We need to bring back this idea that going to college is a way to continue the era,” Evans said.
When asked about healthcare in general but also medicare for all, Congresswoman Kuster said she’s voted 53 times not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “My goal is to defend universal access to health care. It’s not perfect, I’d be the first to say that Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it’s not unusual with a big change like this that you would continue to tweak the law and one of the things that I’ve been working on is stabilizing the healthcare marketplace. In terms of the medicare for all, the way I would approach that is to sort of incrementally see if that will work. What I think we should do is expand what often people call a public option on the healthcare stage. You would start medicare at age 50 or 55, and you pay a premium until you reach the age where the medicare was a part of your retirement benefit. You could see your own doctor, you could get access to the care that you need, and that is was at an affordable price point for you,” Kuster said.
LGBTQ activists work towards equality for people who identify as a part of the LGBTQ community, so when a leaked memo from the Trump Administration suggested the creation of a legal definition of sex, it caused an uproar, as: “this would mean a huge step backwards,” Congresswoman Kuster said.
“Your lives matter and your identities matter. I think it’s a part of [the Trump Administration’s] whole platform that is misogynist, racist, homophobic, and all the rest. I think to anyone out there who is transgender, or loves someone who is transgender, or cares about someone who is transgender, by then I think you include most all of us, and that this is the lowest of the low and it’s no coincidence that they rolled this out two weeks before the elections. I’m horrified and I’m saddened, and I hope people realize that elections are really important and that they should turn out to vote and turn the tide on all this hate,” Congresswoman Kuster said.
Keene State College will be providing rides to and from the polls on Tuesday, November 6, and Program Manager for Diversity and Multiculturalism Kimberly Schmidl-Gagne said she encourages students to get out and vote: “On November 6, we will be running continuous van rides to the polls. They’ll be meeting behind the Student Center. Students who have registered already are all set, and for students who have not registered, New Hampshire does allow on site registration. The poles are ready for us, they do a great job here in Keene. In the presidential election, we had around 1,800 students registered on site so we really encourage everyone to go out their and cast your vote because it does matter.”

Emily Carstensen can be contacted at

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