Saturday, January 12, 2019

Antonio Delgado in Hudson

Of all the halls, in all the towns, in all the 19th Congressional District, Antonio Delgado chose Hudson Hall as the scene for his official swearing in, which happened today at noon, and Columbia County Democrats gathered in force to celebrate the occasion.

There were lots of TV and video cameras present, so, in the fullness of time, you will probably be able to watch every minute of the proceedings, but in the meantime, Gossips will share only some favorite moments.

Mayor Rick Rector, who was the master of ceremonies for the event, had invited highly decorated World War II veteran Ralph Avery to lead the group in the pledge of allegiance. Avery is the great grandson of Peter Avery, the architect who designed Hudson Hall, which was built in 1855 as the City Hall for Hudson. (This bit of information will be relevant later on.) Curiously, Avery and the audience got a little out of sync during the recitation of the pledge, because Avery left out the phrase "under God," which wasn't added until 1956.

Reverend Ronald Grant of Shiloh Baptist Church delivered the invocation, in which he appealed, "Heal our land. Our land needs healing, our land needs restoration." Before introducing Senator Charles Schumer, who would administer the oath of office to Delgado, Assemblymember Didi Barrett spoke of a paradigm shift in Congress and declared that she now had "a partner in Washington" on such issues as protecting the environment, reproductive rights, and the Hudson River, pursuing social justice and criminal justice reform, and preserving and supporting farms. Introducing Schumer, she called him "the greatest champion for New York State families." 

Schumer, who, when he came onstage with Delgado and his family, greeted the audience with a raised fist, opened his speech by saying he had been asked not to be too political but did want to say one thing: "The symbol of our country should be the Statue of Liberty and not a thirty-foot wall." That statement was greeted with huge applause, accompanied by whooping and foot stomping. When the din subsided, Schumer turned to Avery, the great grandson of the architect of the building, and quipped, "With all that stomping, the building held."

Schumer again got an enthusiastic response from the audience when, in recounting Delgado's life and achievements, he mentioned his time spent "in the music business." Schumer summarized his account of Delgado's career to date by saying, "He got here the old-fashioned way: He earned it."

Schumer's remarks included a little tale about Benjamin Franklin, in which Franklin, enjoying a repast in a coffee house at the end of a session of the Continental Congress, was asked what he and his colleagues had accomplished. Franklin responded, "We have created a republic, if you can keep it." Schumer noted that in Franklin's time "only white, male, Protestant property owners" could vote and then asked the audience how many of them would qualify if the same restrictions applied today. Very few raised their hands. Soon after, Schumer administered the oath of office to Antonio Delgado.

In his remarks after being sworn in, Delgado spoke of the partial government shutdown, calling it a travesty and saying, "It not only takes the focus off priorities, it is hurting people." He went on to say, "We need to move past hate and division to do the work of good government." He confirmed what has already been reported in the news that he is not taking his salary so long as the shutdown continues." He enumerated issues--the environment, rural broadband, the opioid epidemic, affordable, accessible health care--and declared: "I'm ready to work on those things."

In contrast to our previous congressman John Faso, who was known for eschewing face-to-face encounters with the public, Delgado promised, "I'll be seeing each and every one of you at town halls across the district." He then declared, "I can't control everything that goes on in D.C.--shoot, I can't control much--but what I can control is my connection with you. I know that I will do right by you."

He concluded his remarks by quoting someone he identified as "a wise individual" (a Google search revealed it was Reinhold Niebuhr): "Our capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but our inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Delgado answering questions from the press after the swearing in

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