10th District Congressman William Keating visited his Martha’s Vineyard constituents Friday, for the first time since his election in November. Mr. Keating has the seat formerly held by William Delahunt, who chose not to run for reelection.
Mr. Keating, who was a part-time resident of the Vineyard for 10 years, with a house in Edgartown, visited The Times office in the morning, before leaving for Menemsha where he was to review progress on reconstruction of harbor dock facilities destroyed by the 2010 fire.
He said he hopes Congress will agree on legislation to lift the nation’s debt ceiling and include some tools for controlling spending and addressing longterm debt. He qualified his optimism about such an outcome, but indicated his strong support for it.
The congressman, a former district attorney, said he enjoys his new job, despite the fierce battles raging on Capitol Hill, and despite the basement apartment he inhabits in Washington and the air mattress he uses for a bed. He said he’s up early and out to work, so he manages with the accommodations.
Mr. Keating described how, during the campaign, he changed his position on the Cape Wind plan for Horseshoe Shoals. He said he had begun with the view that the visual and environmental impacts of the 130-turbine wind farm would be harmful, but ultimately decided that he could not argue for energy policies that support alternative forms of generation and call for reductions of foreign oil imports, while opposing wind farm development at the same time.
Mr. Keating described economic conditions in his district, which stretches from Quincy to Provincetown and includes Dukes and Nantucket counties, as tied closely to tourism and dependent on very small businesses. He said he is looking for ways to make financing more available to a typical 10th District business with perhaps five to 25 employees. Financing options for such enterprises, whose owners in the past often used real estate equity to help finance their businesses, have in many cases evaporated as housing values have tumbled.