By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Congressman-elect Joe Heck held a town hall meeting in Overton on Saturday, December 11, answering questions and listening to the concerns from a gathering of about 30 Moapa Valley residents in attendance.
It was the first town hall meeting that Heck has held since defeating incumbent Congresswoman Dina Titus for the Nevada District 3 seat in the November election. Heck will officially take office in January.
“During the campaign I came out to the rural areas of the district quite a lot,” Heck said in his opening remarks. “That’s because we heard concerns that this area and other outskirt areas of the district didn’t get a lot of visibility from the previous representation. During the campaign, I vowed that I would come out here often and involve you and listen to your concern. Well I was elected. And so here I am.”
Heck simply opened the floor to those in attendance to speak to him and express their concerns.
“I am here to listen to you,” he said.
Several in attendance raised concerns about wars currently being fought on foreign soil by American troops.
“We are fighting unpopular wars spending billions of dollars over years and years in response to someone blowing up a set of large buildings in New York City,” said Moapa Valley veteran Jinx Johnson. “The proper response might have been a more focused one rather than this extended war. We’d like you to tell them back in Washington that Americans are tired of these wars. It has been long enough.”
Logandale resident John Jensen asked Heck to see to it that there were no more government bailouts of large businesses.
“I have seen all of this taxpayer money being spent on big business; but I have seen little accounting that it has been spent to solve the problems,” Jensen said. “I want to see accountability for these things.”
Heck stated that Congress is meant to exercise control over government spending through the oversight process.
“Over the past couple of years, the cabinet members and other administration chiefs have not had to come to the Capitol to report on spending,” Heck said. “It is the responsibility of Congress to provide oversight. And with the new Congress that is what you will see happen.”
Heck was asked by one resident if he would move toward repealing the comprehensive healthcare bill which passed through Congress earlier this year. Heck responded that, given the current political reality, repeal of the bill was probably not possible. But he stated that he, and the new Congress, is committed to dissecting the bill and making fixes to it where they were necessary.
“It is a huge bill,” he said. “There are some things in it that have merit and other things that don’t. We need to go through it carefully. Those things which have merit, we should keep them. Some of the things that could have merit but don’t quite get there, we need to tweak those things. And the things that just don’t have any merit need to be thrown out.”
Logandale resident Lindsey Dalley stated that federal land policies were having a significant effect on the Moapa Valley community.
“We are seeing that policies regarding our surrounding public lands are slowly starving our community both economically and culturally,” Dalley said.
Dalley talked about policy decisions made by the National Park Service at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. “The Park Service in their decisions has shown very little concern about the communities around them in their management of the area,” he said. “And many of these decisions have terribly hurt and are hurting our local commerce.”
Dalley also explained the long heritage of local residents in using and appreciating the surrounding public lands; only to see their most treasured destinations closed or access restricted by federal agencies.
“I’d like to see you form a working group to create a public lands master plan for this area to give management direction to the various agencies,” Dalley said.
At the end of the session, Heck thanked those who had come to give input.
“This has been very worthwhile,” he said. “My goal was to try to find out what is going on out here and what the concerns are before I get to Washington so that I can hit the ground running. These experiences will help me in that.”