May 15, 2013
October 31, 2012
The Arizona Republic
U.S. Congress candidate Matt Salmon treated the Gilbert Town Council to lunch Monday while promising to locate his home office in Gilbert and meet frequently with local officials if he is elected next week.
During a public meeting at BoomBozz pizza restaurant in Gilbert, Salmon described himself as a "servant" to town leaders and sought their input on local and federal issues.
Salmon, a Republican from Mesa, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994 to 2000 before losing a gubernatorial contest to Janet Napolitano in 2002. He faces one opponent on this month's ballot - Gilbert Democrat Spencer Morgan.
Arizona's 5th Congressional District covers all of Gilbert and parts of Mesa, Chandler and Queen Creek.
Salmon campaign manager Adam Deguire said the candidate has met with leaders in Mesa, Chandler and Queen Creek. Those meetings will help Salmon hit the ground running if he wins next week, Deguire said.
Salmon on Monday vowed to maintain a close relationship with the Gilbert Council if voters send him to Washington, D.C.
"A really good federal representative is not someone who just goes back to D.C. and votes," Salmon told council members. "The other half of that is we're partners. I'd like to meet on a regular basis to hear what you have to say because I work for you."
If elected, Salmon said his top priority will be to balance the federal budget as quickly as possible.
The candidate also said he wants to empower local government - where he said "the best decisions are made" - and reduce certain federal regulations, such as rules on airborne particulates and storm-water runoff.
Council members were not shy about asking for Salmon's help on several local issues, including transportation, economic development and socioeconomic challenges.
Councilman Eddie Cook asked how Salmon might address children's needs, especially those taken from their parents by state Child Protective Services.
Salmon took it one step further and said he'll fight to protect "both born and unborn children," moving the discussion into the more-controversial realm of reproductive rights and abortion.
Several town officials asked for Salmon's help in regional transportation planning as Gilbert explores the possibility of commuter rail that would extend from Phoenix to Tucson and cut through the Southeast Valley.
If planners decide the commuter rail line makes sense fiscally, then it would also make sense to extend the rail through Gilbert, Councilman Ben Cooper said.
Vice Mayor John Sentz told Salmon he would like to see the federal government work more aggressively toward energy independence, including more drilling on domestic soil.
Salmon said much oil exploration is already happening on private property but blamed environmentalists for holding back more activity on federal lands.
Salmon said the nation also needs to put more effort into building nuclear power plants, which he called the cheapest type of energy available.
Councilman Jordan Ray said he was impressed that Salmon took the initiative to meet with the Gilbert council after most members supported his opponent, former state Rep. Kirk Adams, in the Republican primary race.
"Previous public officials haven't always been as interactive with local government," Ray said. "I look forward to more of this with you. It can be a great asset."
Salmon said his campaign team is searching for a place in Gilbert to open a congressional office, and Deguire said the candidate has participated in 40 to 50 meet-and-greet events in Gilbert over the past several months.