U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said it’s up to citizens to hold their elected officials accountable.
With an array of problems facing a gridlocked Congress in Washington, D.C. Gosar suggested citizens should voice their concerns at the polls.
“Hold me accountable. Hold (U.S. Rep.) Ann (Kirkpatrick) accountable. Hold everyone accountable,” Gosar said.
Gosar made his comments during a town hall-style meeting at Maricopa’s new city hall Tuesday evening. About 25 local residents and officials were in attendance. Gosar does not represent the Maricopa area, but his district does extend into northeastern Pinal County and the congressman is working to resolve local issues at the federal level.
He used to represent the area before redistricting in 2012. Today, Kirkpatrick of District 1 represents Maricopa residents in Congress.
The second-term congressman laid out his thoughts on both local and national issues including the Lower Santa Cruz River Watershed, the State Route 347 grade separation project, Benghazi, the federal budget and more.
Gosar’s thoughts about holding those in Congress accountable came during a back-and-forth exchange with a resident who said it seemed as if Gosar was blaming citizens for not having a balanced budget in Washington, when the real problem, she said, is the elected officials themselves.
Gosar defended his record of fiscal responsibility before explaining that, as a republic, citizens need to hold their representatives’ feet to the fire. The congressman said he does his best to listen to the concerns of those who elected him.
He later added that the makeup of Congress is actually a perfect representation of America, saying 50 percent want government solving their problems and 50 percent want government out of the picture.
“Pick a side,” he said.
Here are some of the issues Gosar touched on Tuesday:
Lower Santa Cruz River Watershed
Gosar said developing transportation and infrastructure in the southern part of Arizona depends on getting this flood area under control.
The congressman recently sponsored a bill that would allow the project to be funded by private and local government funds. The bill passed the House Oct. 23 and made it through the Senate on Oct. 31. It has yet to be signed by the president.
“We’re going to look at that venture capital coming from private and local governments,” he said. “And help streamline the process.”
State Route 347 grade separation project
Gosar called the proposed overpass “a big deal,” especially when it comes to safety.
“This is one of the most unsafe intersections in Arizona,” he said.
Gosar joined other Arizona delegation members in signing a letter in July addressed to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx backing the city’s federal grant application for the project.
Gosar laid out his prediction of what will happen in the coming months concerning the national budget.
It’s been just over a month since the so-called “government shutdown,” which forced furloughs and delayed payments to government workers.
Come January, he said, Congress will move into a CR debate where the president will attack the sequestration cuts. CR stands for “continuing resolution,” or legislation meant to keep the government operating.
The debate will continue through summer, which is when the government will again hit its debt ceiling, he said.
“The debt ceiling’s going to be the end of June and July, and that is the middle of what?” he asked. “Primary season for Republicans and Democrats.”
Gosar described the coming debate as “a fist fight.”