WILMINGTON, Del. – On Sunday, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined DETV's Community Crossfire with Norman Oliver to discuss community outreach, constituent services, protecting the vote, USPS, and the senator's college experience with studying abroad in Africa.
To watch highlights of the DETV interview, visit youtu.be/foDCPZUdmGU. A partial transcript is below.
Listening to Delawareans
"I get a report every week. I get a report from my offices – from Washington, Wilmington, Dover – about every email, phone call, anyone who's expressed concern. Actually, two weeks ago, it happened that I ended up sponsoring a bill that one Delawarean wrote in about...I also get the numbers on what their biggest concerns are. We are now over 2,000 people who've called or emailed my office in the last three weeks expressing concern about the delay of their mail. Veterans who aren't getting their medication mailed to them by the VA, small business owners who can't send checks or get checks, seniors concerned about their Social Security checks. A few cases, it's just literally, 'I mailed my granddaughter her birthday card with a check, and she didn't get it for ten days. She got it after her birthday.' So, some of these folks, Independents, Republicans, Democrats, are just complaining about the mail. Others are concerned about what they see on TV about the postmaster general."
Protecting the Vote
"If we weren't pumping money into the airlines right now, they wouldn't be flying. If we weren't giving money to Amtrak, it wouldn't be moving. So, the fundamental question here is: what is the Postal Service? Is it just another business? Or is it an essential service that connects our country together? And in the middle of a pandemic that’s impacting our election, shouldn't we be making sure that the Postal Service has the resources it needs to deliver mail, medication, social security checks, and ballots safely and in a timely way."
College Semester in Africa
"You know Norm, when I was a junior in college I went and spent a semester in Kenya. It changed my whole world; it changed my mind; it changed my faith; it changed my view of the world. In summary – I've got a lot of stories – but I had just unbelievably welcoming, kind, charitable families let me stay in their homes and get to know them and their kids and their context, and it really challenged me. It really tested me because I saw hospitality like I've never seen before."
Going to Kenya
"I would say it was the first decision I ever made. My parents didn't want me to go. My girlfriend didn't want me to go. My fraternity didn't want me to go. My roommates didn't want me to go. That was the time when I went to church a lot. Kenyans are very, very, faith-centered, very prayerful people, and I had a religious experience that really changed the trajectory of my life. On a beach on an island called Lamu on the Indian Ocean, and that set me in a direction towards later going to Divinity School at Yale, and then later returning to Kenya. I worked with this amazing woman named Zipporah Kamau – and you can look her up on Facebook – who started an orphanage that is amazing."
"We’ve got an incredible constituent service team – Krista Brady leads it, but we've got folks in Dover and in Wilmington who just knock themselves out. . .so if there's anybody watching who's having a challenge with a veterans benefit, with social security, with Medicare, with Medicaid, with immigration, with anything that is federal, that we could help with – [call] 573-6345 – that’s my office number. My website is coons.senate.gov. We have thousands of cases right now, and every week I get a summary of the toughest cases; cases where I might be able to help in some way, but that's led to just remarkable things…"
To watch the entire Aug. 23 episode of Community Crossfire, visit DETV’s YouTube page at youtu.be/5sMhjZH2Pbc or visit detvch.com.