NEWBURGH – The Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County (LDCOC) held its 10th Annual Fall Dinner Dance on Saturday, October 1.
The annual event, held during Hispanic Heritage Month, is an opportunity to not only celebrate the rich Latin culture, but to honor those who are making a positive impact in the community.
Orange County Legislator Kevindaryán Luján was the recipient of the Leadership Award and Rocio Silva received the Entrepreneurship Award. Each were presented numerous citations from local elected officials in recognition of their honors.
“Today more than ever, we must exercise our citizen right to vote,” proclaimed LDCOC member Mary Olivera, after describing what is at stake in the upcoming elections, before Congressman Pat Ryan spoke.
Congressman Pat Ryan said of the events atmosphere, “I really feel the warmth, the smiles. I feel the sense of community and love in this room and with what’s happening right now in this country and our community, we just really need that.”
Ryan, who was the main speaker for the evening, spoke about winning the special election recently for congress. “No one thought we could win,” he said. Explaining why he ran, “The moment that we are at in this country, where the foundations of our entire democracy, fundamental shared American values are under direct threat. When that’s happening, we have to fight in every single race and every single level. “
With two small children, Ryan questioned what their future will look like. “We see the Supreme Court that’s been about expanding rights, advancing rights, addressing inequalities, actually ripping away a fundamental foundational right for women and people across the country.”
He talked about school and mass shootings, questioning why people need to own a weapon like the one he was issued when he served in the military.
Touching on the economy, he said while families are figuring out how to pay their rent, utility bills and prescription drug costs, “the biggest companies in our country are making greater profits than they ever made and their paying absolutely nothing in corporate taxes.”
He continued, “And then we see fellow Americans, literally storming our most sacred capitol… killing law enforcement, trying to undercut the heart of our whole democracy, our election system. And when all those things were happening, we had to stand up and say that is not who we are as a country.”
Turning his focus on the upcoming November 8th election, Ryan spoke directly about his opponent Colin Schmitt saying, “He is a threat to our freedom, against women’s rights, against access to reproductive health care. He’s a threat to our safety. A+ rating from the NRA while kids are getting killed. Poisoned his own community in New Windsor with PFAS containments in his last job and he is a threat to our Congress. You all know that he cheered on two bus loads on insurrectionists from Orange County on January 6.”
Assemblywoman Karines Reyes also spoke, as did Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson. Each emphasized the importance of voting, and the consequences of letting others decide elections for them.
“If you want to go forward in a car you put it in D. If you want to go backwards you put it in R,” Jacobson said, referring to Democrats and Republicans.