Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Deacon took part in a Latino business roundtable at the Spanish Action League in Syracuse Monday as part of her campaign against incumbent Rep. John Katko. Deacon brought Congressman Xavier Becerra of California to listen to the problems facing the local Latino community.
Poverty, education and housing ranked at the top of the list. In terms of what a member of Congress can do, Becerra gave the same answer to many of the issues.
“You can’t solve every problem and tackle every challenge by yourself, but you can sure bring the right people to the table,” Becerra said.
So when the problems of getting Latinos more small business loans and Section 8 housing discrimination came up, Becerra said a member of Congress can invite the heads of relevant federal agencies to see the problems themselves.
Deacon said that is something she would absolutely want to do.
“The more attention we can bring to this district, the more people we can get to come to this district and see first hand the challenges that we face, but also the opportunities that we have here, I think is extremely valuable,” Deacon said.
Deacon said the common concerns she heard are jobs and education. She said that is why she stands for increasing the minimum wage, training programs and access to capital as well as paid family leave and affordable day care. She also said she used the roundtable opportunity as way to hear directly from the Latino community.
"I think that is lacking right now in Congress, the empathy and compassion for people who actually know what it's like for many families struggling across the district and I truly want to go to Congress to be able to be a voice for people who haven't had a voice before."
Members of the Latino community indicated that they have not had much contact with Congressman Katko. Latinos as well as African Americans in Syracuse face some of the worst concentrations of poverty in the nation. More than 60 percent of both groups live in high-poverty areas.
Becerra described the race in this swing district between Deacon and Katko as one of the of the most crucial in the country.
"This is top of the mountain," Becerra said. "This is one of those races where we think we could have someone who will make a difference."
Katko's office responded with a statement.
"It is certainly not unusual for members of congressional leadership on both sides to visit Syracuse for campaign stops. It is however, unusual for a handpicked candidate to pledge full support to her party and refuse to name a single issue she can break with them on. While Congressman Katko welcomes members of leadership from both parties to Syracuse, he does so as one of the most independent members of Congress who has repeatedly shown his ability to break with his party to fight for this district."