Lt. Gov. Delgado Touts Infrastructure Projects At CIC-BCA Fall Membership Meeting Oct. 12
TARRYTOWN, NY—In the 47-year history of the Construction Industry Council, there has never been a guest speaker at an annual membership meeting quite like the one last week—someone with a resume that lists experience as a U.S. congressman, a lieutenant governor, a Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard-trained lawyer and a hip-hop artist.
Yet, there he was, New York State Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, introducing himself to more than 100 members and guests of the trade association and leaders of organized labor at the CIC-BCA 2023 Fall Membership Meeting on Thurs., Oct. 12, at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel here in Westchester.
Prior to listing projects and programs that the Hochul administration is now working on, he introduced himself to the industry audience by explaining that his state roots run deep, having grown up in Schenectady, NY, where his parents worked for General Electric. He now lives in Rhinebeck with his wife and twin sons. His appointment by Gov. Kathy Hochul in May 2022 to serve as her second in command, followed four years in Washington as the House Representative from New York’s 19th Congressional District.
His run for Congress was a significant win, he explained, because of the natural and unnatural headwinds and diverse composition of the district. He was the first person of color to represent upstate New York in Congress. “It’s the eighth most rural district in the Congress, with 5,000 family-owned farms,” he explained. He also noted it is an election district that Donald Trump won two years earlier, in 2016, by seven percentage points.
Apparently, the bruising campaign for the congressional seat paid off. “My opponents showed me wearing a hoodie, made me out to be a thug.” The Mr. Tough Guy image apparently plays well once you get to Congress because he arrived with helpful experience and grass-roots insights, and he acted quickly. He served as chairman of a House agriculture subcommittee as well as the House Transportation & Infrastructure and Small Business committees, the latter of which is in line with the more than 27,000 small business enterprises in the congressional district.
He pointed to his record of bipartisanship and accomplishment in the House, noting, “I delivered 18 bills that were signed into law—10 under Trump, eight under Biden.”
When the pandemic hit, he was successful in securing federal support for frontline and essential workers and small businesses through essential loan repayment relief for small enterprises. His Direct Support for Communities Act delivered $10.8 billion to New York State counties, cities, towns and villages for economic recovery.
He has a rare perspective as having been both a part of creating the $1.2 trillion IIJA bipartisan infrastructure law and is now back at the state level where he directly sees the impact that law is having.
He pointed to the 800,000 good-paying jobs the law will create nationally as well as what’s needed: lots of project work and programs. He said 80% of the roads are in disrepair, noting that old 19th century water systems made from wood, still in use today, can finally be replaced.
“New York is getting significant funding to repair our highways, our bridges, our transit, roads, water, broadband, clean drinking water,” Mr. Delgado said. He noted there are 1,700 bridges and 7,000 miles of highway in poor condition that can finally be upgraded through the $11 billion in federal aid apportioned for programs and $2 billion in bridge replacement.
“Public transportation also benefitted mightily from this infrastructure bill, he added. “In 2021 New Yorkers were spending an extra 58% of their time commuting, and he pointed to a significant percentage of transit vehicles that were beyond their useful life.
In a nod to the members of organized labor at the meeting, Lt. Gov. Delgado explained that the infrastructure bill has provisions that “expressly provide that Davis-Bacon labor standards apply to all construction projects receiving funding by the particular programs created by and through the law.”
Pivoting into an area of unvarnished truth—harkening back to his days as a hip hop producer—he urged the audience to be vigilant in holding political leaders accountable for their pledges and their actions. He denounced leaders and those in positions of power who fan the flames of hate, and who are doing it for their own benefit to ascend in power. Those leaders are toxic, he said, causing pessimism and cynicism…and people start checking out.”
“What upsets me, to be candid with you, are people who walk around and call themselves leaders in the name of public service and fail intentionally in this regard. If you’re a leader, a political actor, or a public servant, this is your job. Otherwise, why are you here? Get out.”
He concluded, “My plea to you is to really start sizing people up who call themselves leaders. Really size them up. Forget the left-right stuff. Just ask yourself, is this person the real deal, does this person actually give a damn? Does this person really care about me and my family or is he or she just blowing smoke…. We need to elevate the bar. It has become very easy to lie and get away with it. And not suffer the repercussions. Don’t accept the BS. Don’t accept it. Hold folks’ feet to the fire. Hold my feet to the fire. Enough with the gamesmanship, enough with the nonsense. I’m with you, I care about you.”