If the DAR’s Lasell Hall is haunted, then Saturday’s calls for democracy and political change must have sounded familiar to the ghosts inside its 200-year-old walls as Brian Flynn, Steven Brisee, and Antonio Delgado all came out swinging at John Faso.
The Democrats, who’ve already filed to challenge the freshman Republican Congressman in 2018, were among the speakers at Schoharie Blue Streak’s Earth Day celebration.
The event was part-March for Science and part-political activism (see related story), but the Democrats were its biggest draw.
Brian Flynn, a businessman and entrepreneur from the town of Hunter in Greene County, has the harshest words for Congressman Faso, who was just elected in November, calling him a “water boy for the alt-right,” who he said lost his right to call himself a moderate when he backed the GOP’s efforts to throw out Obama Care without a plan.
“Activists work where government fails,” Mr. Flynn told the crowd of about 100 people. “We are in the fight of our life against right wing extremism.”
Case in point, he said, is that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, “Is someone who doesn’t believe in the EPA.”
Mr. Flynn said he came by his political activism tragically: His brother and best friend was killed in the Lockerbie plane bombing in 1988, when Mr. Flynn was 19, “because he was an American and because of Big Oil.”
Though he said he’s the unusual combination of businessman and environmentalist, Mr. Flynn said they’re not mutually exclusive and, like state Ag Commissioner Richard Ball who spoke before him, he said farmers have the power to create a stable environment, “and we need to pat farmers for doing it.”
“We’ve faced bigger foes than John Faso,” he said to applause.
Mr. Brisee was also introduced by Schoharie Blue Streak’s Barry Gell as an unconventional candidate—a policy architect who’s been homeless.
Mr. Brisee, 26, and from Elka Park in Ulster County, said he filed even before Congressman Faso was sworn in “because, unfortunately, we knew how that would go. As the new kid on the block, he isn’t beholden to the people who voted for him.”
Mr. Brisee wants the gerrymandered-19th District redrawn.
“One of the problems we face in the 19th is diversity,” he said. “It’s hard for those in the southern district to relate to their northern counterparts.”
Like, Mr. Flynn, he blasted Congressman Faso on “selling us out” on health care, and with a nod to Earth Day, skewered “alternative facts.”
“Climate change is real, People and Congress can’t say it’s not…
“This is how liberty dies. It’s time to start unmuting you guys. It’s about giving the voice back to the people.”
Mr. Delgado is a lawyer who lives in Rhinebeck.
He grew up in Schenectady; his parents—on hand Saturday to film the event—were blue collar General Electric workers who believed in the value of education.
“I was a latch key kid,” Mr. Delgado said. “The rules were: Let yourself in, do your homework, and leave it on the counter.
“Because education matters. The dream was with education, you have a fair shake at doing better than your parents. Education gives you an open mind.”
Mr. Delgado said he took those values with him to Colgate and to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar—a path he never imagined.
He studied law at Harvard and then moved to Los Angeles to work with kids in the hip-hop culture before marrying and moving back east, where he’s been a lawyer since 2011.
“What’s on the line, more than the left or right, is our moral center,” Mr. Delgado said. “Who do I want in the White House for my children to look up to?”
“Somewhere along the way, capitalism trumped democracy…What scares me is that facts matter. So let’s fight. Let’s stand up.”