Congressman Jim Matheson speaks at Barlow Center
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Congressman Jim Matheson (D-Utah) met with students of the BYU Washington Seminar on Oct. 6 to discuss ways his faith and rearing have influenced his public service. He encouraged the audience at the Milton A. Barlow Center in Washington D.C. to become critical thinkers and consensus builders, and to remember his mother's teaching: Leave the world a better place than you found it.
The Barlow Center is a multi-use facility located in the heart of Washington, D.C. It houses offices for Church public affairs, offices for CES administrators in the area and provides living space for LDS students who are serving internships.
Rep. Matheson represents Utah's Second Congressional District and serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. He is also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats
Son of former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson, he grew up in a family attuned to issues affecting Utah.
"It is up to all of us to elevate the discussion … to use good judgment and thinking skills … to ask good questions in the public dialogue," he said.
From his Scottish ancestors who settled in Parowan, Utah, he said, he learned the value of working together and serving each other. He recognized these values again as he studied the lives of John Adams and George Washington, men who put duty above self.
Now as a congressman during a time of great economic challenge, Rep. Matheson said his satisfaction "comes from making progress on the issues that truly affect people's lives....
"Our system breaks down when there is division," he said, although he said he believes the Constitution's provision for a government of checks and balances ensures a positive "built-in level of tension."
He also noted that the Founding Fathers meant for the legislative branch to be a deliberative place: "It's hard to pass a bill. It requires a lot of listening and a lot of consensus-building," he said.
However, Rep. Matheson indicated he would prefer less media "clutter" and more accurate information so people can separate "the wheat from the chaff." He encouraged everyone to "get up off the couch and get energized. "
"I have been able to meet so many Utahns who have shared so many good ideas with me," he said, including many who are in the military.
After receiving his bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University, then an MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles, Rep. Matheson worked for 13 years in the energy industry. He and his wife, Amy, have two sons.
His remarks were part of a speaker series cosponsored by BYU Washington Seminar, Seminaries & Institutes, and the Public and International Affairs Office of the Church.