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New role, tone suiting Langworthy

AP file photo U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy is making the rounds in District 23.

WESTFIELD — U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy needs no introduction to the Chautauqua County landscape. As a Pine Valley High School graduate, he experienced the north-south divide and was a witness to the region’s strong agricultural ties and its blue-collar work ethic.

He also understands the importance of our waters and the economic benefit they bring. More recently, he’s grateful for the conservative sentiment of a county that staunchly backs the Second Amendment and is pro-life. Those values boosted him to a slim primary win that ultimately set the stage for a much less dramatic election by a wide margin in November.

During his second stop in the area in less than four weeks, the Congressional representative for District 23 was in Barcelona to view the erosion issues that have been taking a toll on the harbor. Standing with Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and Westfield town Supervisor Martha Bills on Wednesday, Langworthy spoke of the urgency to have dredging take place in an area he called “the lifeblood of this greater Westfield community.”

Since taking office in January, it has been a transition of sorts for someone who has been the face of the state Republican party in recent years. Instead of rallying the troops and consistently railing against the dominant Democratic reign of Albany, Langworthy seems more focused on engaging with local leaders while also appearing a bit more reserved.

That does not mean he has lost his fire. He’s still ready to strongly offer his view — and tell you why he believes a certain way, especially while representing this district in the nation’s capital.

At this moment — when he is not handling matters in Washington — he is making his way around a district that includes a suburbia segment in Erie County and a robustly rural swath from Chautauqua to Chemung counties.

“I think I represent the values of this district,” he said during an interview with The Post-Journal and OBSERVER at Full Strength Coffee on East Main Street. “I think that was indicated in the election. … I was overwhelmed by the support.”

It was more like an avalanche. After the early results showed his opponent with a slim lead, the traditional Tuesday voters made a statement of dissatisfaction regarding the Democratic faction that is currently heading up Albany and Washington.

Langworthy is still touched by that resounding result. Last month, he made stops in both Hamburg and Dunkirk to let lakefront constituents know that he is on their side when it comes to opposing turbines in Lake Erie. His visit came shortly after the New York State Research Development Authority report that revealed little benefit to placing the structures within the Great Lakes.

“This is just common sense,” he said. “No one wants them. … We are so blessed. We have places in the country who wish they had a lake like (Erie) — a freshwater supply. You’re going to screw around with that?”

Like others who oppose the aggressive goals set by New York state to move away from fossil fuels, the congressman notes these projects are being buoyed by federal subsidies. Without those funds, many of the wind and solar efforts would be major money-losing propositions.

In the meantime, he noted, a source of energy in natural gas that is prevalent throughout the Interstate 86 corridor is being underutilized. “The fact that we have it right here in this district and they won’t let us take it out of the ground is a crime against the people of the Southern Tier,” he said, noting the just job creation alone would bring an immediate impact to the currently struggling economies.

In addition to energy concerns, Langworthy also offered thoughts on these topics:

¯ Powers of area governments — “I’m a local control guy. If the town of Westfield wanted to have 1,000 windmills, I may not agree with it personally, but as long as those local officials are accountable directly to the residents, (they can). … They’re entitled to make lousy decisions.”

¯ The health of Chautauqua Lake – “I have to educate myself a little more on what has been up to this point. I’m looking forward to spending time here as we get going and investigating what we can do. … That lake has got to be viable. We have to dedicate ourselves to it. … It’s really important.”

¯ Finding common ground — “We have to work together where we can. I’m not going to join the problem solvers caucus. … It’s a divisive time in our politics.”

¯ The impending debt ceiling — “We have to get spending pointed in the right direction. You wouldn’t run a business or your household like this. We can’t run the federal government like this. Our grandkids grandkids can’t pay off what we’ve already charged on the card. Unless we get more in the direction of a balanced budget in the next decade we’re going to have real troubles as a country. This is how empires fall.”

John D’Agostino is editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 716-366-3000, ext. 253.

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