For the dozens of residents and local officials who attended the grand opening of a new congressional office over the weekend, the tight squeeze needed just to fit in the door echoed one of the themes of the day: inclusiveness.
"We have a lot we can that we can teach Washington, D.C., about how we work together–not as Democrats versus Republicans, but as Americans putting our community and our country first," Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) told attendees.
Bera, a physician who ousted Republican Dan Lungren last year in his second try, promised to find common ground with his colleagues. On Saturday, he held a grand opening and open house for his district office, located at 11070 White Rock Rd., Rancho Cordova. Residents and elected officials formed a line stretching through the office for a chance to shake his hand and ask him to fight for their issues in Congress.
He's one of 40 representatives in a bipartisan group called No Labels, which seeks to reach across the aisle to solve the country's challenges. Bera said if the group can reach 100 members, it can "influence the conversation."
Newly elected Elk Grove school board member Carmine Forcina attended the event, and said he hopes Bera can make an impact on increasing the amount of federal funding school districts get for special education.
"The way in which Congressman Bera can support us at the federal level is to ensure we receive as much funding as possible so we can continue to serve the students," Forcina said.
State Assembly Member Ken Cooley, a former Rancho Cordova council member, said he hopes to work with Bera on finding funding for a Rancho Cordova housing project for severely injured veterans.
"I expect he'll be a big partner on that," Cooley said.
Citrus Heights City Council Member Mel Turner praised Bera's promises to be inclusive, and said he hopes the congressman will be able to help Citrus Heights fund projects to repair and rebuild its roads so it can attract new residents and businesses.
"You can't do that if you have an eroding infrastructure," Turner said.
Rosemont Community Association Vice President Terry Dugan said he just wants the chance to sit down with Bera to learn about his priorities for the region.
"Personally, I haven't even met him yet," Dugan said.
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