Originally Published: January 13, 2009 8:56 a.m.
U.S. Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick hit the ground running as she took office last week, joining the rest of Congress in urgent efforts to help the nation's struggling economy.
"Right now, we're working extremely hard on economic recovery," Kirkpatrick said. "We're really trying to find a way to create jobs and put folks back to work."
The need for more diversified jobs already was an issue in her sprawling rural 1st Congressional District, Kirkpatrick said, so now it's really urgent.
"People are losing jobs daily," she said.
The economic crisis does offer an opportunity for everyone to examine where the national and local economies should be in 25-30 years, she added.
Any national economic stimulus package can and should lay the foundation for those plans, she said.
The foundation should include traditional infrastructure such as asphalt, but also should include money for areas such as education, health care and national security, Kirkpatrick said.
The package also should feature tax cuts, she said.
The package should include aid for state governments, too, Kirkpatrick said. Otherwise, states including Arizona will face employee layoffs.
Any economic stimulus package needs "oversight, accountability and transparency," Kirkpatrick said.
She didn't like the 2008 financial and auto industry bailout packages because they didn't include enough transparency.
"To me, that's the key," she said.
To keep communication lines open with her constituents, Kirkpatrick is opening a full-time district office in Prescott later this month at 240 S. Montezuma St. The phone number will be 445-3434.
"We really just felt like there was a strong interest in our campaign in Prescott, and we want to keep that active," Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick heard from citizens that they didn't see enough of her predecessor, Rick Renzi. He didn't make any public appearances in the Prescott area after his 2006 re-election.
Her mother Nancy Kirkpatrick Wright has been a Prescott resident for 35 years. Her mother married Fulton Wright after the death of her father.
Kirkpatrick is trying to get settled in Washington, D.C., but her home still will be Flagstaff. She plans to move into a Washington-area apartment this week, but wants to spend as many weekends as possible in Arizona.
Her Washington office just happens to be the same one that Sen. John McCain used when he served in the House, on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building.
Kirkpatrick is working with constituents to move forward on bills that have been languishing, including one that would make the Verde River tributary of Fossil Creek a Wild and Scenic River.
She has been talking to Yavapai County officials to help improve relations in water politics, and hopes to help create a Western Water Caucus in Congress to advance local interests.
Kirkpatrick will serve on the House's Committee on Homeland Security, and she looks forward to working with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano when the governor takes over as Homeland Security secretary.
"I'm impressed with her competence," Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick also is looking forward to attending the historic inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama. All members of Congress get the sought-after invitations.
"There is definitely the feel of change in Washington, and definitely a bipartisan effort," Kirkpatrick said. "It is an exciting time in our history, and I'm honored to be a part of it."
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