WESTFIELD, NJ – In an exclusive interview with TAPinto.net on Tuesday, Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7) discussed a variety of issues impacting area residents.
Communication with Constituents
Lance said that he tries to interact with the 750,000 constituents of his district, which includes 75 municipalities, as much as possible. His efforts include conducting “town hall” meetings open to the public (both live and via telephone) and sending out newsletters.
Recently, Lance began “The Seventh District Congressional Report,” a television show available on public access stations in the district. The show, designed to be informational and non-partisan, includes a report from Lance on issues relevant to the district, an interview with a guest and a Q&A session using questions sent in by viewers. Guests have included Dean Paranicas, chief executive officer of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey; Congressman Tom MacArthur; and Congressman Donald Payne.
This summer, TAPinto will become the exclusive online media provider of the show.
“It is important to use methods of communication available in the modern world. TAPinto does an excellent job,” Lance said. “Because the Seventh District includes so many municipalities, TAPinto is a very good platform to reach constituents throughout my district.”
Funding the Rahway River Study
The Rahway River has seen several “hundred year” floods during the past 20 years, the most serious in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Thirteen years ago, the Rahway River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study began, with the goal of providing recommendations to prevent the flooding of the Rahway River. Recently, Congressman Lance announced that the House of Representatives passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which included $500,000 to continue the study.
“The purpose of the study is to determine the best way to alleviate flooding in areas affected by the Rahway River,” Lance said. “I personally lobbied Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho, chair of the subcommittee overseeing the study, to have more funding allocated to it. I said it was important to the district I serve. I’m very grateful to him for containing the allocation in his bill. I also would like to give credit to the mayors of the affected towns who have advocated for the study, both here at home and in Washington, D.C.”
Lance said that he is “appalled at the underlying behavior” as described in the Bridgegate indictments. “Under no circumstances should there have been a closure at the George Washington Bridge. It’s terrible politics. It’s awful policy, the worst public policy, and I condemn the behavior.”
Regarding the indictments of Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, Lance said, “The legal process will take its course.”
Bridgegate has not soured Lance on Governor Chris Christie.
“I will support Governor Christie if he runs for President,” Lance said. “He took decisive action when presented with the facts in this situation. Iowa and New Hampshire are retail politics states. I don’t think anyone is better on the Republican side in retail politics than Governor Christie.”
Recent Events in Baltimore
Reacting to the riots and aftermath in Baltimore, Lance said, “There needs to be better understanding between police and communities. The police have a very difficult and dangerous job. We need effective policing and I support the police. I want the community to be engaged with the police. I want young people to aspire to be police officers.”
He added, “We have to do a better job in the minority community. We want everyone in our society to be hopeful for the future.”
Lance said that the decision to equip officers with video cameras should be made locally. He noted that the federal government provides grants to police every year and that perhaps, in the future, grants could be given for such cameras.
As for the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, Lance said, “I favor the rule of law and the legal process will take its course.”
Reacting to the recent events in Garland, Texas, Lance said, “ISIS is dangerous, well-funded and an immediate threat to the Middle East and potentially a threat to our homeland. While I’m very concerned about the events in Texas, it does not come as a complete surprise to me and I’m sorry to say that.”
Regarding strategy to combat ISIS, Lance said, “We have to be involved with others in defeating ISIS. I don’t favor American boots on the ground. There needs to be a wider worldwide coalition. I call upon the nations in the Middle East to step up to the plate to a greater degree.”
Here at home, Lance said Congress is working on threats to the United States but “we have to be ever more vigilant.”
“I’m concerned when I read that young Americans are volunteering for ISIS. That’s inexplicable to me,” he said.
Lance concluded, “The district is a joy to represent. It’s highly educated, knowledgeable about federal issues, it has great schools, talented young people and a diverse economic base.”