By JENNIFER HILL • Special to ALLOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Unity. Finding common ground. Bipartisanship.
These themes ran through U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado’s packed Town Hall meeting Saturday evening at Roots in downtown Oneonta – his 17th since being elected last November. When he was asked twice if he supported impeaching President Donald Trump, he said no both times.
“I can’t stand up here in this Town Hall and talk to you about how important it is to find common ground and bipartisanship…then say, rush to the first flames we can and stoke the division,” Delgado said.
He said it was Congress’ responsibility to bring out the facts of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation and report and “let this process unfold” and “whatever is decided, it’s not perceived as a purely partisan political act.”
“Let’s not lose sight of what is actually at risk – the safety of our safe and free elections, the essence of our democracy,” Delgado said.
He contrasted the divisiveness in Congress with the cooperation he had found in his district.
“People are making a lot of money on division and nastiness, in TV news, Twitter and Facebook feeds,” Delgado said. “But here in New York-19, no matter what political party you’re affiliated with, you can come together. You can talk and listen.”
He said because NY-19 has no one dominating party, people have to find common ground. He told his audience he would hold two Town Halls in each of his district’s 11 counties by the end of August, to be accessible and accountable to his constituents and to work with them on “complicated issues,” such as health care, economic growth, rural broadband, climate change and others.
“A lot of people in Washington will say nice things, pat you on the back,” said Delgado. “But at the end of the day, I serve you and need to be connected to you.”
He said he had introduced 14 bills in Congress, 10 of them bipartisan ones.
“How about that word — ‘bipartisan?’” Delgado asked to applause.
Most of the audience’s asked questions about international and national issues, rather than local ones.
The first question was about Delgado’s recent trip to Rio Grande Valley to observe the conditions of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“It was devastating,” said Delgado. But he said the U.S. Border Guard’s facilities were not designed to house people or have services for children, which is “why there haven’t been showers or hot meals.”
Delgado said half of the $4.5 billion in the emergency border aid bill he voted for and the House passed last Tuesday, July 25, would be aid for children via the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
Oneonta’s Howard Joseph, 94, asked Delgado his assessment of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. Delgado replied the U.S. should drawn down its forces in Afghanistan, roll back the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force against terrorism because it had been misused, and that Trump had put Americans “at risk” by pulling out of the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal and starting a drumbeat of war with Iran.
He also addressed questions on gun control, money in politics, women’s reproductive rights, cuts to government agency, and the $22 trillion deficit.
Delgado closed his town hall with the theme of his commencement speech at Colgate University, his alma mater, in May.
“I was elected, an African American man in a district that is almost 90 percent white, because we led with love,” he said. “You drive hate out with love.”