New York Congressman Antonio Delgado held a town hall Friday night in Dutchess County as President Trump was signing a bill to reopen the government for three weeks. Agreement to temporarily end the record-long shutdown came without money for a border wall.
Freshman New York Congressman Antonio Delgado, a Democrat from the 19th District, held his second town hall since taking office, this time in Pine Plains.
“It gives us some time to, hopefully, act like adults and engage in a meaningful conversation grounded in facts and in evidence and have a robust debate without holding people’s paychecks hostage. I think that’s the key piece here,” Delgado said. “I’m just happy that the government’s open because people were going for too long without pay, unnecessarily. Think about that. No pay, just now, 35 days later, do what we could have been doing this whole time.”
Delgado’s town hall came hours after President Trump announced a deal to temporarily end the shutdown, until February 15. Delgado was asked what he thinks will happen then.
“I’m determined to not find ourselves in this position. We have to be. We cannot keep doing this. It’s imperative that we come together and work together,” Delgado said. “And I tried to demonstrate tonight that there’s room, there commonality, there’s opportunities for cooperation if we just put aside demagoging and all the partisanship.”
Delgado spoke about the shutdown and border security in his opening remarks, and a number of questions and comments from the audience addressed the topic. One area resident said he was sick and tired of all the double talk out of Washington on the issue and had to speak his mind.
“Twenty years we’ve been talking about this stupid wall. Build the stupid thing.”
He said why not build the wall and get on with it. Delgado responded:
“I don’t think a wall is going to be the appropriate solution,” said Delgado.
He later summarized his response to WAMC:
“And, to me, a wall is an antiquated, outdated way to solve a New World, 21st century problem,” said Delgado. “We’ve got to modernize our thought process here.”
One audience member said why not get rid of the Electoral College? Delgado responded that he had thought about this issue a lot.
“And I think there are lot of other things that we can do before we take that drastic a step,” Delgado said. “You know what we can do that can actually do a lot of good is just get money out of politics. That’ll do a lot of good.”
And, he says, have an independent commission carve congressional districts rather than the state legislature. Chris Kennan, a town council member in North East, had a different concern.
“There is a real connection as you, I think, know, between infrastructure up here and jobs because, particularly in the area of water and wastewater…”
“Yes,” Delgado said.
“… so many towns up here don’t have even a sewer system,” Kennan said.
“Yup,” said Delgado.
“And a business tries to comes in and open and they’re told no, you can’t do it, you’re going to have to build a huge commercial septic or something like that,” Kennan said. “It’s a real, real issue.”
Delgado said that within the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he serves on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, precisely to focus on such water infrastructure needs as Kennan described. Delgado was also named to the Agriculture and Small Business committees.
Morgan Whut attends Union Vale Middle School in Lagrangeville, in Dutchess County.
And my question was, I’m in eighth grade and I go to public school, and with all these school shootings, what is your position on gun control,” Whut said. “And I really liked his answer. It was really detailed. And when he mentioned HR8 really gave me a sense of comfort that some change is coming.”
HR8 refers to legislation introduced in January to require universal background checks, which Delgado supports. Delgado says he does not accept any money from the National Rifle Association, underscoring that it’s because of the lobbying wing of the NRA, not the members.
Delgado said he would hold town halls in each of the district’s 11 counties by the end of the year. His first one was in Poestenkill in Rensselaer County January 21. Delgado said the shutdown created an urgency to hold it sooner rather than later.