CLAYTON — The distance to Washington, D.C. just got a little shorter, at least for transporting ideas to one member of Congress.
Last week, U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre opened an office in Clayton – in the Clayton Center – where his staff will have office hours twice a week to give citizens a place to voice their concerns and ideas for the federal government. They will carry those ideas to the congressman.
Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre, who represents Johnston County’s 7th Congressional District, is serving his ninth term in Congress, after winning the closest race in the state against N.C. state Senator David Rouzer.
“Clayton is the first and last place I think of when I leave this Congressional district,” said McIntyre.
The congressman said he drives through Clayton weekly when he is en route to RDU-Airport to fly to the capital. Mayor Jody McLeod reached out to him first about having a field office in Clayton. The congressman said he liked the idea because Clayton is a model for economic growth for other small towns.
Echoing a sentiment that Governor Pat McCrory shared during his recent visit to Clayton, McIntyre said he wants to emphasize the health of Main Streets in towns in his district, and he has been impressed by Clayton’s progress and growth.
Before he went to Congress, McIntyre served as the president of the downtown revitalization association in Lumberton.
“I remember what it was like as a private citizen to go to the Chamber to express needs,” said McIntyre. “I want to make sure that our connection is as strong as possible with local businesses and with rural development.”
The congressman’s staff has two other offices in the district, each located closer to the coast, in Elizabethtown and in Leland, near Wilmington.
Office hours at the Clayton office will be from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
One of the staff members who will work at the new office is Gigi Mitchell. She said any person can come during those hours and explain the issue they have, then they will be asked to sign a privacy release, allowing their opinion to be shared with the Congressman. After that, the staff will look into that particular issue and respond to the citizen on behalf of the Congressman.
At the ribbon cutting for his new office, McIntyre paraphrased tennis legend Arthur Ashe who said to start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can, noting that he would take seriously the concerns presented to him from the citizens of Clayton.
“It’s a team effort, I see myself as a team player wanting to work with you,” McIntyre said.
Issues to address
Councilman Art Holder attended the ribbon cutting ceremony last week and said he plans to go to the office to talk about an issue that is important to him: jobs.
“Most manufacturing jobs have technology that doesn’t require people anymore,” said Holder. He said he believes there should be serious study devoted to getting manufacturing jobs back in the country, after job losses in steel, textiles, furniture and electronics.
Councilman Michael Grannis also attended the ribbon cutting. Grannis has already gotten a chance to talk with the congressman about the issue of gun control, which is important to him, so he does not plan to talk with the congressman’s staff further. But, he said that the real test of how useful the office hours are remains to be seen in “what can he do to make a difference in his district.” Grannis said he would like to see more grants or economic opportunities come to Johnston County and Clayton.