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U.S. Congressman Lawson Says Housing, Infrastructure Are Jacksonville’s Most Pressing Issues

U.S. House Office of Photography - Office of Congressman Al Lawson

Democratic North Florida Congressman Al Lawson said he’s hearing public education and healthcare as main concerns from his constituents during a stop in Jacksonville Monday to speak at a Rotary Club meeting.

Lawson also said he’s also looking at issues specific to Jacksonville, including securing funding to deepen the St. Johns River for larger ships.

“(Dredging) brings a lot of jobs,” Lawson said. “The second most important issue is housing. It’s time for us to make (the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development) do their job and not let people live in dilapidated situations.”

But he said he believes the most important issue to Jacksonville is improving its infrastructure.

“Which is roads and bridges and everything else which is critically important,” he said.

Lawson said he agrees with fellow freshman Northeast Florida Congressman John Rutherford, a Republican, on many local issues. But the two diverge on healthcare policy, with Rutherford recently voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Lawson opposed the plan, and hopes the Senate works hard to improve it.

“There’s going to be a lot of rewrites in there,” Lawson said. “This was more of a goodwill vote in part to give the president something to hang his hat on.”

Lawson, a former state senator and representative, said he was surprised by how partisan Washington D.C. is but he plans to work across party lines.

“We want to accomplish a lot for the American people and we need to work together,” Lawson said. “Nothing was accomplished in America with just one party. ... Any major initiative we have has been because of both parties and that’s the way it should be.”

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.