DeLauro facing challenger Cadena in 3rd District
New Haven Register
For Rosa DeLauro, first elected in 1991 to represent the 3rd District, this is one of her most important elections because the issues for which she has fought for years finally are front and center in the presidential campaign — paid family leave, equal pay, affordable childcare — things traditionally thought of as “women’s issues.”
“That’s the agenda I fight for in Congress,” DeLauro said, “and I have introduced some of these bills decades ago.”
“My view is this is the greatest economic challenge to face the country today — that there are jobs that just don’t pay enough money,” DeLauro said. “We have a situation where we have seen wages stagnant for the last 30 or so years and what has happened is that families really are struggling today.”
“We need jobs,” Angel Cadena said. “The people, they’re hurting, they need some opportunities, especially in the New Haven area where there are a lot of homeless people. They need a more solid foundation so they can take another shot at life and they’re just not getting that.”
DeLauro is the ranking Democrat on the Labor, Heath and Human Services and the Education Appropriation subcommittees and serves on the subcommittee responsible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
Cadena is a truck driver, making deliveries to Whole Foods stores in the Northeast. He always has been a political junkie, he said, and “grew up watching C-SPAN.” He has worked on campaigns and has done speech writing for candidates, he said, and in 2014 ran for state comptroller.
“I’m a person who solves problems, and there are a lot of problems in the country,” Cadena said, “and if I didn’t at least give it a shot, I wouldn’t feel right with myself.”
“People say, ‘In this polarized atmosphere in Washington, why do you keep banging your head against the wall?’” DeLauro said. “People are frustrated with what they see. They say, ‘What are you doing that is going to help me and my family?’”
And that’s why she keeps running, DeLauro said — to continue to help people, following the example set for her by her parents, who were longtime New Haven public servants.
“My parents’ brand of politics was they worked with the community and their constituents to make sure they helped to try to address their needs,” DeLauro said. “They believed there was a role for government to play and that government can create opportunity.
“That’s where my brand of politics comes from — that government can create opportunity. You do have an opportunity to (work for) efforts that I think are critical to families today, and that you try as best you can to make government work, to push federal agencies to do the things they are supposed to do.”
That DeLauro has served for so long is a problem, Cadena said. “The fact that Rosa has been in there so long feels wrong all around,” he said. “We need fresh ideas. You should go in and give it a shot, and if you don’t get something done first couple tries, then get out. I will really push for term limits.”
It’s her experience that has allowed her to be as successful as she has been, DeLauro said, pointing to the 2,500 cases of constituent requests closed through her office. “We got back $2.1 million in back benefits — Social Security and other kinds of benefits — that they couldn’t get without our help,” she said. Her office also has been instrumental in successfully securing funds that directly affect 3rd District residents, she said, including a $1 million grant for firefighters, funding to repair the Temple Street garage, $16 million for the Downtown Crossing project.
“I’ve been directly and intimately involved in these efforts,” she said. “That’s about jobs and economic development and revitalization of a city.”
To get results, you have to have goals, both long and short term, DeLauro said. Longer-term include an increased opportunity for education at all levels and for job training, she said, which is “critical to fostering opportunities for people that allows them to gain an economic advantage.
“I also put infrastructure in that long-term category, which is a real engine of growth — not just roads and bridges that are critically important but it’s also energy and the energy grid, environmental infrastructure, ports, airports, telecommunications, broadband — we still have some places in rural parts of Connecticut that aren’t up to speed with broadband.”
In the shorter term, action has to be taken to relieve the financial pressures families face, DeLauro said. “Income inequality has to start with the issue of wages,” she said. “There you talk about an increase in the minimum wage, you talk about equal pay for equal work, paid sick days, college affordability, child-care affordability.”
A new presidential administration opens the door to making these goals a reality, she said. And she is convinced that will be the administration of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, refusing to even consider a Donald Trump administration.
“I believe in the first 100 days, we will see that she will move these issues,” DeLauro said. “All of these things are now front-and-center items that used to be viewed as fringe or only affected women. These are working-family issues that are directly a part of the political discourse and that’s an exciting prospect. These are issues that I have spent a lot of time working on that will be front and center.”