ST. GEORGE – Congressman Chris Stewart, of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, appeared at several events in Washington County on Wednesday, with more to come on Thursday.
His visit to Washington County was aimed not only at campaigning for his upcoming election, but also updating local residents about happenings in Washington, D.C., and taking the pulse of local issues in Southern Utah.
(story continues below)
Videocast by Devan Chavez and Samantha Tommer, St. George News
With stops during the day at Tonaquint Intermediate School and Deseret Laboratories, Stewart visited with local elected officials, business leaders and Washington County educators.
Stewart said running as an incumbent has made this campaign different; he has had a chance over the last two years, he said, to get to know many more of his constituents.
“Two years ago, I would look out and hardly know any of them,” Stewart said. “I look out now and I think I have spent time with most of these folks, to hear their problems and know what is on their mind.”
Stewart said he is proud of the things he has accomplished over the last two years in office, such as becoming a chairman as a freshman, which is rare, and moving to appropriations, which, as a freshman, is also rare. But the thing he is most proud of, he said, is how hard he worked for the people in his district.
“I grew up on a farm, milking cows,” Stewart said. “My dad was an Air Force pilot, and the reason he left the Air Force and bought a farm was to teach his kids how to work.”
Stewart said there have been more than 300 cases of people coming to him for help with veterans affairs, Social Security or Medicare, and each individual was able to receive the help they needed.
During the past two years, 50,000 letters have been answered, Stewart said, and more than 30 town halls have been conducted. We have met individually, or in small groups, with more than 5,000 people.
“At the end of the day, what I do in D.C. is great,” Stewart said, “but if I am not helping the people in my district, I am failing as a congressman.”
When asked about his thoughts on public lands, Stewart sat upright and said:
Anything that we can do to have a decrease in federal involvement in our public lands, and an increase in the state and local involvement, is something we support.
Stewart said one of the biggest hurdles he is facing in Washington over the lands issue is a lack of education on both sides of the isle.
“I have met with Republicans from Louisiana, Georgia, or Kansas and you talk to them about federal lands, they don’t have any idea what you are talking about,” Stewart said. “You tell them, ‘I have a county in my district that is 97 percent controlled by the federal government,’ they don’t believe me. I have to show them a map of the west that is covered in federal lands.”
If the Republicans take the Senate in 2015, Stewart said it would be good news, good news, with a little bit of bad news.
The good news is, 394 pieces of legislation that the house has passed that are sitting on Harry Reid’s desk, 70 of those bills deal with job creation; dozens of them deal with energy; they deal with reforming health care, reforming Obama care; they deal with all of these issues, and most of those are bipartisan… I believe we can move some of those through and start making things happen. But the bad news, if you will, we need to temper our expectations. If we win the Senate it will be by a thin margin. It might be a 51–49 gap. But to pass legislation in the Senate, it doesn’t take 51 votes, it takes 60, because of the filibuster.
So on one hand, Stewart said, we will be able to push bills that have huge bipartisan support, such as keystone pipeline, some other things with energy, and some other things with repealing financial services regulations, like Dodd-Franks.
Stewart, a former member of the armed services, when asked about ISIL and the threats developing in the Middle East said:
We have to ask ourselves one fundamental question. It’s the only question that matters. All other questions have to spring from this … What does it take to keep the American people safe? Answer that question, then develop your strategy and policies based on that.
Stewart said that one of the great failures in foreign policy, in generations, is (Obama’s) unwillingness to negotiate the status of forces agreement in 2011. An agreement that would have kept up to 12,000 troops in Iraq.
Had we done that, Stewart said, ISIL would not be in Iraq. They would be entirely contained in Syria.
We also eliminated our ability to influence the president of Iraq, he said, who, as soon as the USA left, fired most of his senior commanders and replaced them with his buddies.
“They had no idea how to command, and how to lead men, or to fight a war,” Stewart said. “It is why the Iraqi army crumbled the way it did when they began to fight ISIL.”
Stewart spent 14 years as a pilot in the Air Force. He has family members still in the Military. Stewart said he knows how hard the Military has worked the last 13 years.
“I know how weary they are,” Stewart said. “I know how tired their families are. But once again, we are going to the Military and we are saying we need you to do this mission for us. They will do it, they will do it professionally, they will accomplish it, and God bless them for doing it.”
- Who should manage public lands? Lockhart, Ivory face off with McCool, Keiter at SUU debate
- Never mind the ticket, Stormont runs on common sense for attorney general
- All posts related to Election 2014
- Colorado City police chief admits corruption; AG calls for disbandment of FLDS marshals
- Democratic candidate Dorothy Engelman hosts campaign kickoff
- Belnap, Caplin square off in live debate; recap, STGnews photo gallery
- County Democrats gather for pre-convention meet-and-greet
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.