New Rep. Delgado kicks off series of town halls

Erin Jerome | The Daily Star 

Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, speaks with Connie Haney, owner of Cooperstown Bat Company, after a town hall in Cooperstown on Monday. 

Otsego County residents filled Village Hall in Cooperstown on Monday to hear from their freshman congressman.

Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, visited the village as part of his first “in-district work period,” which will include six town halls across the 19th district.

Delgado has been appointed to the House Committee on Agriculture and said he will be focusing on agriculture priorities; he met with young farmers earlier this month in Oneonta.

Attendees asked questions and raised concerns about support for small dairy farmers, health care, student loan debt, the Green New Deal and other topics.

Delgado also spoke on the fallout of the partial government shutdown that extended into the beginning of the 116th session of Congress this year, as well as President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency as he plans to build a border wall without permission from Congress.

“I find it destructive. I find it a violation of our separation of powers” and congressional control of the federal purse, he said, adding that he planned to work with lawmakers to put forward a resolution to block the declaration.

Delgado described the Green New Deal, a set of proposed economic stimulus programs that aim to address climate change and economic inequality, as “a big kind of wish list for a lot of things, without any real clear detailed information and no real to-do’s” or funding worked out.

He said he would like to see a federal study commissioned on green jobs and pilot programs put in place for green job training.

“Like anybody else who understands the climate change crisis, I understand that we have to act and act now,” he said, adding that he believes tax credits and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry should be shifted to sustainable energy.

In response to questions about supporting small farmers, Delgado said development of regional distribution networks and farmers' market programs would be a boon to small dairies and family farms, and that his constituents in agriculture have asked for those programs, as well as diversification of insurance programs.

Asked whether he supports Medicare for All, Delgado said he believes a federal option for health insurance is an “achievable step” to reducing premiums across the market and encouraging competition.

Delgado is also a member of the infrastructure committee and said he would fight for more equal distribution of broadband internet in the rural area.

Asked about mitigating inequality in public education, Delgado mentioned that he would support universal preschool.

“We have a lot of poverty in this country and unequal access to health care and mental health services,” Candice Shannon, president of the board of The Brookwood School in Cooperstown, told The Daily Star. “It’s more felt and more salient in rural communities. We really need more attention.”

David Welch, the mayor of Unadilla, said he hoped Delgado would not forget about his town at the edge of the county and district.

“The sentiment I got during the election is that his ideas are matching up with a lot of what the community is thinking,” he said. “Congressman Faso didn’t really seem to pay attention to this part of his district.”

Delgado will hold a town hall Tuesday at Delaware Academy High School and an open house Wednesday in Oneonta at his 189 Main Street Office at 2 p.m.

Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at ejerome@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .