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CONGRESS In 12 years, Reed brought balance

Why isn’t it surprising that Rep. Tom Reed’s earlier-than-anticipated departure from Congress leaves district residents feeling conflicted?

Conflicting emotions are the story of Reed’s 12 years in office. During a time of increasing political polarization, Reed publicly espoused bipartisanship as a member of the Problem Solvers’ Caucus, a group that has managed to score some victories in Washington, D.C. Critics pointed out, though, Reed’s Problem Caucus membership came with a largely Republican voting record and close ties to former President Donald Trump.

Many area residents cheered Reed’s attacks on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo as disclosures of Cuomo’s less than honorable behavior with women became public. Then, it was discovered Reed had a similar skeleton in his own closet.

The lesson, of course, is that no elected official is perfect.

There’s a second lesson for those in the 23rd Congressional District to remember in the coming months — enjoy a pretty good thing while you have it.

Reed may have had his faults, as we all do. But Reed was accessible, holding town halls throughout his district at a time when many congressional representatives gave up on town halls because they became incredibly contentious. Reed was also consistent, willing to listen to different viewpoints even if he wasn’t likely to change his mind.

Critics like to point to Reed’s ties to Trump. But at a time when many Democrats criticize Republicans for being too timid around Trump, Reed’s shining moment is something we hope his successor as our representative in Congress will emulate. We refer, of course, to the night of Jan. 6, 2021, when Reed literally crossed the aisle to stand with fellow Problem Solvers’ Caucus co-chairman Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.

It’s easy to speak about the need for bipartisanship in Congress. It was another thing entirely, on one of the nation’s darkest days, to physically cross the aisle in a sign of solidarity.

“I encourage my colleagues to always search their conscience and their souls. I respect my Republican colleagues and my Democratic colleagues, but today let us pause and remember what happened here today. Let us pause and remember that our tenure here in this Congress will far surpass the time that we stay here,” Reed said on Jan. 6, 2021, on the House floor.

That is a worthy standard for Reed’s successor — whether Democrat or Republican — to live up to.

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