He started and ended with humor.
He struck the right balance between being personable and humble, recognizing our local camaraderie, and standing up as a national leader. He knew his facts, understood exactly where he was, and articulated that he was well connected to influence and advocate for the region’s economic development and preservation and protection priorities.
Representative Matt Cartwright was in the house. In full attendance for the whole of the 3.5 hour 31st Annual UDC Awards. So much so that Lifetime Achievement recipient former State Senator John Bonacic joked that Matt liked it better in Beach Lake than in Singapore.
It was a playful reference to the story that Cartwright used to begin his remarks. He told the story about how he was part of a congressional delegation trip visiting the world’s military bases and needed to cut it short by a day to attend the UDC awards ceremony on Sunday, April 28.
“What’s this UDC?” his colleagues on the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee asked him.
And Cartwright knew.
It is an organization where “everybody is united with the commitment to preserve and protect the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. This is a partnership that made good on that commitment.”
He talked about the importance of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and about how stewardship of our environment was a core value to him. He read a passage from Pope Francis’ Encyclical that included the hope that “humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home,” and to “recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share.”
“We have a responsibility for future generations,” he said.
And deftly from there, he pivoted his remarks to ways in which he was making good on that commitment.
He talked about how he was in a good relationship with the Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee. He said that he would advocate for the funding of the UDC, which has not seen a rise in appropriations since its inception in 1988.
He talked about the PREPARE Act, which passed the house last year, that directs federal agencies to develop tools and data to help communities prepare better for damaging weather. We do this, he said “so that we’re smarter about how we allocate our federal resources and we don’t waste money.
“It is forward planning and saves billions of dollars while also protecting lives. So please know I will always be a strong voice in Congress for measures that preserve and protect our natural resources while also enhancing economic opportunities. Striking the right balance between those two priorities, that’s the real trick.
And striking the right balance, he did. In closing, he joked with UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie, who ably hosted the awards ceremony: “Don’t be surprised if you receive membership inquiries from Asia.”
The room was smiling as he sat down.