POINT PLEASANT — Congresswoman Carol Miller (R) was in Mason County on Friday for her first official visit to the Third Congressional District as its representative.
Miller began her day meeting with local officials at the Mason County Development Authority Office in Point Pleasant and then traveled to American Electric Power’s Mountaineer Plant in New Haven. Miller also stopped by the Point Pleasant Register to talk about her visit and her new responsibilities in Washington.
Much has been made of the diversity of this year’s incoming congressional class which contains the most women ever elected to the House. Its been dubbed the so called “pink wave.” Of those newly-elected faces, Miller was the lone GOP female who was sworn in, making her somewhat of a political unicorn, which seems to be a label she’s happy to embrace. Something else that may make her a unicorn in this day of partisan politics, is her openness to working across the aisle.
“That’s my job (to work across the aisle),” she said. “I served in the minority the first eight years I served in the state legislature and people elected me to get things done.”
Miller said she felt it’s important to “meet in the middle” on issues which require compromise, and finding commonality in the details.
“I was brought up that you do unto others as you’d have others do unto you, and if you’re nice to people, they’re nice back…I’m not going to poke you in the eye with a stick and expect you to work with me,” she said. “But, I will hold you accountable if I think your behavior or your words are hurtful or ugly.”
Miller has been a supporter of President Donald J. Trump who supported her during her campaign in 2018. On President Trump, Miller said, “every instance that I have been in contact with the president, he’s been very professional and very kind and respectful of me. …I think he’s a very smart man and his policies are good policies. I’m going to move forward supporting my president.”
Miller said she had been greeted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as well, as appointments and committee work have already begun in Washington.
Miller recently received her committee assignments which include: the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Subcommittee assignments include, Highways and Transit; Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. She’s also been named as an assistant deputy whip, working with House Minority Whip, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana).
On her appointment to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Miller has stated, “We need strong roads and railways to transport our resources, connect our communities, and to strengthen our economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties, as well as President Trump, to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. This is a tremendous opportunity to expand and complete our highway system in Southern West Virginia – the Coalfield Highway, King Coal Expressway, Route 2, and Route 10 – as well as improve rural broadband.”
On Friday, Miller told the Register, her appointment on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee gives her a unique opportunity to serve her district and to foster the development of projects in Mason County. She said her visit included discussions on economic development, rivers, roads and rails, energy and the issue of youth leaving the state – the latter of which she feels has to do with employment opportunities. In terms of economic development, Miller was updated on the need for infrastructure so that locations are “site ready” which has been an issue in Mason County and other areas, when it comes to stalling potential development.
She said Friday’s visit was about listening to concerns and being updated on what’s going on in Mason County so she can better serve her constituents moving forward.
“I need to make friends in 18 counties, that’s how I look at this,” she said. “I’m not representing you well if I don’t show up. At least every month I’ll be in the district and going to functions and will be with the people and listen. God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason. I’m a listener. I like to hear what you have to say.”
In that vein, Miller’s office will be offering mobile office hours in Mason County, just as her predecessor Evan Jenkins did. She said she also hopes to partner with her counterpart in Ohio, Congressman Bill Johnson, to host local job fairs in their districts, as Jenkins and Johnson did. Her office has also maintained experienced staff to assist constituents with various issues.
Miller, is the daughter of the late Congressman Samuel Devine (R-Ohio), who served in Washington from 1959-1981. She recalled a function her father and sister were attending with President Richard Nixon. She said her sister was nervous to meet the president but her father reminded, “remember, he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.” She continued, “that’s the way I was raised, that we’re all humans and we all have our faults and have our wonderful things and you can learn from everybody.”
As for Washington today, Miller said it’s important to “try and find what you have in common. I think women do that in general. We try to find the common ground that we can work on and go from there.”
Miller has now found herself not necessarily walking in the shadow of her father but certainly in some big footsteps. Still, the first day in Washington, D.C. as a congresswoman, was uniquely her own.
“I always say, I’m humbled to do this…I love being a public servant,” said said. “Walking where Abraham Lincoln was, and where so many parts of our history happened, it really kind of grounds you. It’s an overwhelming feeling. We have a nice group of people (the freshman congressional class)…it is humbling and overwhelming in a positive way.”
As for what she wears to take those steps, many times she’s in tennis shoes on the House floor. They’re practical and they allow her to get where she needs to be in a hurry.
“We have a long walk to go anywhere,” she said.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.