First District U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) joined Richmond Hill city officials and local dignitaries Monday at Magnolia Manor on the Coast for a business breakfast to kick off the city’s activities for Georgia Cities Week.
Though Kingston focused on topics such as the economy, energy independence and regulatory burdens, he did take time to thank city employees for being dedicated to their work.
“It’s great to be with y’all and I certainly appreciate all the good work city employees do and as somebody who is also a public servant, I believe that you are in a position to do the most good and do it in a very effective way,” he said.
Kingston’s topics of choice stemmed from a question he asked the crowd of about 40.
“With the number of things going on in the world today, if I was to ask you what are the biggest issues, what would you say,” he asked.
The responses ranged from unemployment to debt to energy independence, but Kingston said the biggest issue in his eyes is the war.
“I would say in the shadow of Fort Stewart, the war is still the biggest issue even though the economy is in the tank and we need energy independence and we’ve got to get our hands around the debt,” he said. “It all does tie together.”
Kingston said he recently attended a memorial service for a soldier from Tybee Island who was killed and noted two trees recently were planted on the Warrior’s Walk.
Bringing soldiers home, he said, is important.
“To me, as long as we have soldiers in harm’s way, that’s got to be our number one priority to get them home,” he said.
Kingston also noted the importance of drilling oil in America and exporting instead of relying on other countries.
“I am sick and tired of us dancing around saying ‘we can’t do it, we’ve got to go to Saudi Arabia and bow to the king and keep borrowing money from China,’” he said. “It’s ridiculous when we could be an energy exporter.”
Another point Kingston made was the need for relief of regulatory burdens and used the deepening of the Port of Savannah as an example.
“What is the biggest example of regulatory challenges in our area? It’s the Port of Savannah,” he said. “August 6, 1999, is when the bill was passed to allow the port to be dug deeper. It was a cost of $277 million. Today the cost is $650 million. It has almost tripled because of regulatory delay.”
Kingston said the economic benefits the project would bring to the area are not to be ignored.
“If you think about 300,000 jobs and the economic prosperity it brings to our area, we need to get this thing done,” he said.
Georgia Cities Week continues in Richmond Hill through Friday with an employee recognition and awards luncheon today and tours of city hall, Richmond Hill Fire Department and Richmond Hill Police Department Friday.
For more information, call 756-3641.