HAMDEN — Democrats in Delaware County welcomed U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, and State Sen. Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, to the annual Fred Cubera community barbecue Sunday, Sept. 8.
Delgado and Metzger thanked their constituents and discussed their values.
“It is so important that we do the work to understand what it means to have a government that promotes the general welfare. We can never let that go,” Delgado said. “We have shifted so far from this notion, yet it says that exactly in the preamble of the Constitution: We the people, in order to form a more perfect union — right? — provide for the common defense, establish justice, secure the blessings of liberty, promote the general welfare — the preamble of the Constitution.”
Delgado reminded the audience of the unprecedented feat his election represented.
“I am the first African American to serve in this district, and this district is 90% white,” he said. “A lot of seats were flipped in 2018, but very few have the makeup of ours — not a lot of suburbs, a lot of it rural — the third-most rural seat of any Democrat in Congress in the state, and eighth in the entire country.”
Metzger emphasized the importance of local government and highlighted her commitment to the issues facing rural upstate New York, especially in a legislature largely controlled by downstate politicians.
“We have our own distinct set of issues and concerns in rural New York, and it’s important that Democrats connect with them, connect with communities and find solutions to pressing rural problems,” she said. “I’m doing that at the state level, and I want more partners at the local level to work with in that effort.”
Metzger talked about her experiences going door-to-door throughout her district, noting the majority of the feedback she received was hyper-local to constituents’ own communities.
“People are really focused on their backyards and on their communities, and of course everything we do at the state level does affect you at the community level; but it’s the roads; it’s the schools; it’s the type of development that’s coming into town; it’s the farms; it’s the type of opportunities. There are so many different issues, and local government can really make a difference,” she said. “It’s really important that we get Democrats into local government, into county government, making decisions that benefit our communities.”
Joyce St. George, who campaigned last year for the State Senate seat held by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said she was impressed Delgado touched on just about every issue important to the district, including the need for rural broadband and green job creation.
“I think after the Kavanaugh hearing, we should all understand the importance of who we elect for all of our courts,” she said, introducing Pete Charnetsky and Claudette Newman, who are running for two of the three vacant seats in New York’s Sixth Judicial District. “These are the people who help us interpret law, who help us make law.”
“We’re traveling through 10 counties and we’ve seen so much enthusiasm,” Newman said.
Kathleen Hayek, chair of the Delaware County Democratic Committee, said she witnessed a renewed energy among her fellow party members in the aftermath of the 2016 election.
“The greatest thing about (Trump) being elected is he charged up the Democrats,” she said.
Describing the county’s democratic party as formerly being “very sleepy, very timid,” St. George said after the 2016 election “people came out who were not afraid anymore.”
Delgado and Metzger both encouraged the Democrats of Delaware County to continue the momentum through the 2020 election season.
“There’s a direct connection between what you put in and election outcomes. Hit the pavement, that’s my advice,” Metzger said. “That’s how we won it the last time around and that’s how we’ll win it again.”
“When I look out and I hear all the drama and I see the racial provocation coming out of the White House, the divisiveness, the xenophobia, seeing it as ugly and blatant and nasty, I think about what we did here, and how we survived — how we thrived — you made history here,” Delgado said. “I hope that you come out of this experience a bit more inspired and a bit more motivated, because we don’t have time to be down. We don’t have time to be cynical. We don’t have time to be skeptics. The only thing we have room for right now is love, a lot of inspiration, a lot of motivation and a whole lot of drive.”
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.