It’s far too early to judge U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado’s performance as a Congressman, but his efforts to connect with constituents are impressive, so far.
Delgado, a freshman Democrat whose 19th District includes most of The Daily Star coverage area, was in our area three days this week. His visits to Cooperstown on Monday and Delhi on Tuesday were “town hall” meetings, where constituents were not only welcome, but actually invited, to attend and bend his ear.
The stops in Otsego and Delaware counties were part of a series of town halls in six of the counties in the sprawling district.
Delgado was back on Wednesday to open a district office in Oneonta. We were surprised that he decided to have offices in both Oneonta and Delhi, but we’re pleased. Each office will be open two days each week, giving local residents plenty of opportunity to talk, face-to-face, with someone who works for the congressman.
Like the two men who preceded him since the last redistribution of Congressional districts, Delgado is from the more populous Hudson Valley. It’s easy to fear that someone based that far away wouldn’t take much interest in those of us here in the hinterlands. Chris Gibson, a Republican who occupied the seat for six years, was very good at keeping in touch with this end of the district, building strong relationships. John Faso, another Republican who served just one term before being unseated by Delgado, was far less visible.
Delgado would do well to follow Gibson’s example and it seems, at least in these early days, that he plans to do just that.
During Monday’s town hall in Cooperstown, David Welch, the mayor of Unadilla, gave voice to our desire to be remembered by our leaders. He said he hoped Delgado would not forget about Unadilla, a village 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 showed wisdom, too, in seeking and gaining appointment to the House Committee on Agriculture. He said on Monday he will focus on agriculture priorities; he met with young farmers earlier this month in Oneonta.
Agriculture is not the economic giant it once was in this region, but it’s still important. We’re guessing Delgado, whose background is more urban and whose education is in the law, has a lot to learn about the issues affecting our farmers. Given the opportunity, those farmers will educate him.
In Cooperstown, Delgado fielded questions about President Donald Trump’s recent government shutdown and more recent declaration of an emergency along the nation’s southern border.
He also addressed questions about the Green New Deal. He called it, correctly in our view, “a big kind of wish list for a lot of things, without any real clear detailed information and no real to-do’s.”
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.
When asked if he supports Medicare for All, said he believes a federal option for health insurance is an “achievable step” to reducing premiums across the market and encouraging competition.
Most important, Delgado gave people the opportunity to ask their questions without limits and filters, without stacking the deck to be sure he got only softball questions.
We encourage people to take advantage of such opportunities and we appreciate Delgado’s making them available.