Woodstock attorney, ordained deacon is eighth Democrat to run for Congress in NY-19

Attorney David Clegg says he's entering the race for the 19th Congressional District

David Clegg, a Woodstock resident with a Kingston law practice and ordained deacon will become the eighth Democrat to enter the race for the 19th Congressional District.

A resident of the Zena-area of Woodstock for about 30 years, Clegg, 64, has a private law practice on Main Street in the City of Kingston, he said. He was admitted to practice law in New York in 1978 and is a trial attorney, primarily dealing with personal injury lawsuits but also handling issues like real estate and wills, he said. He’s never run for an elected office before.

The 19th district is currently represented by freshman Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, who won the open seat last year. The election isn’t until November 2018 and an unusual amount of Democratic competitors have said they’re looking to challenge Faso.

You can read more about the ballooning amount of competitors and early race for the 19th district in my story here.

The 19th district includes all or part of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan counties.

Clegg said he’s been inspired to run because of the “collective disgrace of the current (presidential) administration and the Republican agenda.”

“Somebody’s got to stop it,” Clegg said.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Clegg said he was a VISTA volunteer with AmeriCorps, providing civil rights legal services in Nebraska and South Dakota.

Clegg said he’s been the chair of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission for about 3-4 years, where he’s worked on issues ranging from immigration, LGBTQ issues and restorative justice.

In 2007 Clegg decided to become an ordained deacon. He attended Yale Divinity School and graduated in 2013 with a master’s degree. He’s now a deacon at Saint James United Methodist Church on the corner of Fair and Pearl streets in uptown Kingston, where he works on social justice and community issues, he said. The church also serves as a food pantry, feeding about 200 families a week, and hosts Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Clegg cited his legal, personal and religious work as qualifications to run for Congress. He said when he was a VISTA volunteer he worked on civil rights cases for Native American defendants in the Sioux and Lakota tribes, pointing to the case of Kenneth Hawkman in Nebraska as an example.

In the 1980s, Clegg said he and others helped found Family of Woodstock’s Darmstadt Shelter in the basement of a church. The homeless shelter provides services for single adults for 30 to 45 days. Today, the shelter offers programs such as GED and yoga courses, and referrals to local social-service agencies. Clegg said he’s been on the non-profit Family of Woodstock Board of Directors for 13 years and is currently vice president.

Clegg said with all of the Democratic candidates already announcing, he decided he needed to jump into the race now. He plans to kick off his campaign at 2 p.m. on July 9 at the Senate Garage in Kingston.

“If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t start so early,” Clegg said. “I can’t start the race too far behind.”

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