Herald editorial: An open letter to incoming Rep. Ben McAdams
Dear Mr. McAdams —
Congratulations on your hard-fought win to represent the 4th Congressional District. It certainly was a squeaker against outgoing U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Saratoga Springs.
As you head to Washington to begin your first term in office, we wanted to offer some advice on things that will hopefully benefit Utah, the nation and all the constituents that you were elected to represent. Although this editorial board didn’t give you our endorsement during the election, we saw many qualities in you that we liked and hope you will apply while in office.
First, it’s important that you represent all the constituents in this far-flung district, from the heart of Salt Lake County down to Nephi and rural Juab County. It’s true that most of the voters in Juab, Sanpete and Utah counties cast ballots for Love, but please remember that you represent them too.
Don’t forget that you narrowly won the election by less than 700 votes. Some candidates, starting at the top of the ticket, win close races but act with impunity as if they had an overwhelming mandate. That’s clearly not the case here, and we hope it’s a lesson that you take to heart.
The overwhelming midterm voter turnout should be a strong sign that large parts of the electorate remain dissatisfied with the status quo. We hope that you hear those voices too and help restore Congress’ role to act as a solid check and balance to the other two co-equal branches of government.
Second, stay engaged with your constituents and don’t be afraid to meet them on the ground to listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Don’t be afraid to explain your votes, even if some voters disapprove.
Your predecessor often eschewed public town hall meetings in lieu of meetings with smaller groups of people. Those sorts of small meetings have their place, but large community gatherings are important tools of civic engagement. Please hold frequent meetings and reach out to your constituents where they are engaged, such as social media.
Third, hit the ground running. Some U.S. representatives are comfortable to be backbenchers for most of their terms in office. Given how narrowly you won the election, we would suggest that you don’t have the time to merely warm a bench in the Capitol.
It will take a lot of time and effort, but the outgoing Congress has left many, many issues unresolved, including immigration and health care. While many of the issues have languished due to stalemates between the political parties, we hope that you will work beyond this petty partisanship and help craft viable solutions that actually help your constituents.
Hyperpartisans greedily consume most of the oxygen in our political realm like a tire fire, but remember that most voters want their representatives to work together and break through the logjam for good governance.
In addition to looking at the big picture, seek out other areas to make a difference. Mia Love found some success helping to pass laws affecting things such as banking in rural communities. While political parties may be intractable on major issues, surely there will be some smaller causes that you can champion.
Fourth, stick to your guns and keep your word. During the campaign, you pledged that you wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi to serve as House Speaker. Although other Democrats voted overwhelmingly to nominate her for the post, a lot of Utahns will be watching to see if you stay true to your promise.
Stand up for your district’s constituents. While many of the issues local residents face are similar to the nation at large, there are many items that need a unique solution. Such concerns include accommodating the massive population boom and how new urban areas interface with rural areas (like state and federal public lands).
Finally, you may have campaigned in a shower, but govern wisely lest the voters take you to the cleaners in 2020. Good luck.
The Daily Herald Editorial Board