Our View: Gosar ought to live where his constituents live

June 5, 2018 GMT

One of the basic tenets of American politics is that the people we choose to represent us ought to be home grown. It’s a government of the people, after all.

Congressman Paul Gosar has represented Mohave and Yavapai counties well since he took office in 2012, but the Flagstaff resident lives in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, not the 4th he represents. When he first ran for office six years ago, he told the Prescott Daily Courier he planned to relocate to Prescott once his youngest daughter graduated from high school. That still hasn’t happened, according to recent media reports.

The Arizona Republic says Gosar has maintained an apartment in Prescott, but his primary residence is still in Flagstaff, where the congressman and his wife, Maude Gosar, continue to receive a $600 state-subsidized discount on property taxes because the home is classified as their primary residence.

Gosar has pushed back against questions about his residency qualifications in the past, arguing that his spartan Prescott apartment should be enough to sate his critics.

Indeed, some shrug off the residency requirement as a mere formality. After all, if Gosar’s doing his job well, why should we care where he lives? There are several reasons. Most importantly, living in the district means he’s likely to have a superior understanding of the area’s concerns. Oh, there are a lot of similarities between Flagstaff and Prescott and Lake Havasu City, so Gosar is much more qualified to serve our area than, say, someone from urban Phoenix. However, there are enough differences between those rural northern Arizona communities that we’re better off with local politicians who understand those nuances.

The interesting thing is that there’s apparently no legal requirement for congressional members to live in the districts they represent. Perhaps that’s because members of Congress inevitably spend more time in Washington than in their home districts anyway. Nevertheless, the law ought to change. Politicians ought to have a stake, financially and personally, in their districts. Otherwise, there’s seemingly little to stop would-be politicians from other areas seeking to serve rural districts where they might have a better chance of securing office.

Frankly, it’s insulting that Gosar still refuses to live in this district. It’s time for him to fully commit to the voters that sent him to Washington. And on that front, we humbly suggest a home in Lake Havasu City — and we suspect that there are plenty of real estate agents here who would welcome a chance to help make that happen.

— Today’s News-Herald