|U.S. Congressman Jim Matheson discusses education issues with Utah Rep. Brad King and Carbon County School District superintendent David Armstrong at an open house hosted in Price on Tuesday. Matheson visited the Carbon County area to meet with residents and discuss the issues which affect the local community. By meeting with members of the general public, the congressman feels that he will better represent the needs of all local citizens.|
In an attempt to reach out to constituents, Congressman Jim Matheson visited Price on Tuesday to discuss issues concerning Carbon County residents.
After being sworn in as Utah's 2nd Congressional District leader in the United States House of Representatives, Matheson felt it was time to begin a road trip which would allow him to reach out to the citizens whom he represents in Congress.
On Tuesday night, Matheson took the time to answer questions and offer assistance to Carbon residents who feel that issues affecting the local area need to be discussed in Washington, D.C.
"I feel that it is extremely important to listen to the citizens whom I represent. Last year, the Utah districts were realigned which left me with the largest district in the state. The 2nd Congressional District measures 50,000 square miles and is the size of Alabama. Therefore, it is important that I dedicate as much time as possible to traveling this district and learning about issues which face every citizen in this area," explained Matheson.
The comment brought up the question as to how citizens can communicate with the U.S. House representative. Matheson encouraged citizens to contact him by any means possible.
"It is not a complete plan yet, but we intend to staff more employees in Utah than in Washington, D.C. The plan is to house an office in the Salt Lake Valley and one in the southern portion of the district, which more than likely will be in St. George. We are open to the idea of finding an office here in the eastern portion of the district; however, this all depends upon the budget which we will set soon," pointed out the congressman.
Matheson indicated that he feels it is important to stay in touch with people who contact him. According to the congressman, every letter, e-mail or phone call is answered by himself or a member of his staff. Although the responses may take awhile, Matheson pledged to reply to every inquiry.
"I have no specific way which I prefer citizens to contact me. Whatever means of communication is available to residents should be used and we will see to it that we receive every piece of information and respond to everyone who contacts us," stated Matheson.
After explaining to the Carbon County crowd how important it is for a congressman to be active in an assigned district, Matheson identified the issues he feels are a major concern to eastern Utah residents.
"I don't need to be sold on the issue of Highway 6 being a priority in the district," pointed out the congressman. "I realize the dangers and the problems which this road creates for motorists."
"It was mentioned to me that the highway carries 40 percent of the truck traffic in the state. This fact alone makes me think that improvements must be done to keep this roadway safe for all motorists," added Matheson.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives' transportation and infrastructure committee, Matheson recognizes the importance of repairing and maintaining the highway which has many Carbon County residents concerned.
The congressman also realizes that the local airport is another source of transportation in the county which could easily be improved.
"The Carbon County airport is a valuable resource here in the area. I want to see that funding goes to this resource which will help attract more commercial operations into the area," commented Matheson.
The congressman is also a member of the U.S. House's energy committee and he feels that the seat on the federal government's panel is an important position for him to occupy.
With the significant amount of energy based businesses in the Utah 2nd Congressional District, including the natural resources in Carbon County, Matheson feels he can make a difference while representing the interests of many residents on the committee.
"Energy is the key to our future and it is an industry which will not fade away over night," noted the congressman.
As the 108th session of the Congress convened for the first time earlier in the month, Matheson was appointed as the assistant whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The leadership role will provide the Utah congressman with the opportunity to participate more actively in the decisions and discussions taking place in the U.S. House during the 2003 congressional session.
One of the main issues currently facing the U.S. Congress faces involves ensuring homeland security.
Following the terrorist attacks on America in September 2001, the primary objective of all branches of government is to protect all Americans and prevent future attacks from happening at locations throughout the U.S.
The issue of homeland security funding was brought up at the open house by Carbon County emergency director Dennis Dooley.
Dooley asked Matheson whether the U.S. Congress would consider exploring the option of funding personnel costs rather than covering only the equipment expenses involved in the provision of homeland security.
Matheson agreed that it is important to fund personnel costs in order to receive the utmost production from the equipment already in place in the majority of the communities in Utah.
"It doesn't do us any good to invest in equipment if we don't invest in proper personnel training. The first responders are the one's who make things happen and it is extremely important that communities throughout the country receive not only the equipment, but also the proper training. This is an issue which needs to be discussed this year," commented the congressman.
After addressing general concerns regarding health care and education, Matheson moved on to discuss individual concerns of Carbon County citizens by visiting with every member of the audience individually.
In a society which focuses on public interest, Matheson feels it is important to stay in touch with the residents whom he represents.
Before concluding the open house and leaving Carbon County, the U.S. congressman vowed to revisit the local area at a later date and encouraged all residents to contact him if any issues need to be addressed at a national level.
"In a district which spreads throughout most of the state, it is important that I make myself available to the public. Whenever I have the chance, I will travel throughout the district and listen to the concerns of the citizens. And from there, I will do my best to voice these concerns to Congress," concluded Matheson.