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2019-02-06 / News

Border Security, Broadband Access, Ag & Climate Change Top Congressional Town Hall Meeting

By Lillian Browne


Congressman Antonio Delgado, representing New York’s 19th Congressional District held a town hallstyle meeting at Livingston Manor Central School on Feb. 2. Lillian Browne/The Reporter Congressman Antonio Delgado, representing New York’s 19th Congressional District held a town hallstyle meeting at Livingston Manor Central School on Feb. 2. Lillian Browne/The Reporter LIVINGSTON MANOR - More than 150 people attended a town hall-style meeting at the Livingston Manor Central School on Saturday, Feb. 2, where Congressman Antonio Delgado, a member of the House’s Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure and Small Business committees, fielded questions and listened to concerns from taxpayers and voters.

Topics such as funding for border security and construction of a southern-border wall, renewable energy, lack of rural broadband service, internet privacy, veterans’ services and justice reform were among those discussed at the event.

Two attendees spoke in favor of federal funding for “the wall,” as part of national security and were met with an uproar from the crowd. Though Sullivan County Sheriff’s Deputies were in attendance for crowd control, Delgado quickly took control of the meeting saying, “We can disagree. It’s okay to disagree. This is a diverse country, the most diverse in the world. Let’s acknowledge that we don’t have to be at each other’s throats.”


“We can disagree,” Delgado responded to one taxpayer who asked that he support funding for a wall at the country’s southern border. Lillian Browne/The Reporter “We can disagree,” Delgado responded to one taxpayer who asked that he support funding for a wall at the country’s southern border. Lillian Browne/The Reporter There is a way to effectively secure the border Delgado said. “Technology does that - not a wall,” he said.

Delgado said he found the President’s proposal for a wall wasteful, but is mindful that the conversation about securing the border has become divisive. That divisiveness, Delgado continued, is not consistent with American values.

A military veteran in the crowd pointed out the similarities between border security and school shooters. “You need locked doors. You need a wall. Good fences make good neighbors,” he said.

De lgado criticized the trend toward privatization in veterans’ affairs saying he would advocate for more veterans’ service funding for job training, small business loans and education.

Regarding climate change and renewable energy, Delgado said the concept of the New Green Deal is aspirational at its core. Concrete steps must be taken to reduce carbon emissions, he said. However, he continued, transitioning the fossil fuel industry must be taken into account when implementing corrective action plans.

“Our indigenous sources of energy are not coal,” Delgado told the crowd. “They are wind and solar.” Economic growth will happen when adopting renewable energy sources, he said.

Bold action is necessary regarding climate change, Delgado said.

Fighting climate change is morally justified and has economic logic, Delgado said. Given the potential for exponential job growth in renewable energy, enacting ambitious climate proposals is essential to protecting both the quality of the environment and the economic health of upstate New York.

Delgado criticized the recent government shutdown which required certain federal employees to work without pay. “How did we get to a place where the government is so broken that we shut it down?” he asked. There is legislation circulating that would prevent a similar situation from happening again. A component of that legislation, which he supports, is that members of Congress and the Executive Branch will not get paid if there is another shutdown.

Responding to a request to support small agriculture operations, Delgado said the majority of farms in the district are small family farms, not corporately owned. “The problem is monopolization within the industry that is soaking up subsidies,” Delgado said. He is aware, he said, that commodity crops are solely eligible for crop insurance and that federally funded programs to subsidize small family farms have been “gutted.”

Making certain that rural areas have access to broadband service is a top priority, Delgado said. The lack of internet service is emblematic of inequality, he said. “The notion that it (broadband service) can’t happen because there are so many special interest groups, is the problem,” he said. Delgado said he is amenable to collaborating with the private sector and considering changes to regulatory framework to make certain that everyone has access to broadband service.

“If we are making it hard for young people to educate themselves, we’re not doing right by our fellow citizens or living up to our ideals.”

Delgado pledged additional town hall meetings throughout the district over the next year while providing moral leadership, rather than political leadership.

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