It may be easy to disagree with his politics on a national scale -- if you support the Obama administration's affordable health care act, for example, or are unhappy with his endorsement of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposal -- but it's difficult to find fault with his representation here at home.
We believe Jon Runyan, R-3rd of Mount Laurel, is doing a good job in that role.
And given the thousands of retired and active-duty military families living in Burlington and Ocean counties, Runyan's positions on the House Armed Services and Veterans Services committees could be crucial to the life of one of the most significant drivers of the region's economy.
After decades of closure and cutback threats, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst has thrived in recent years, but that may change as the president seeks congressional authorization for a Base Realignment and Closure process.
In a meeting with the Burlington County Times Editorial Board on Tuesday, Runyan said he has made fighting the closure of the joint base a priority.
We were very happy to hear that.
"Looking at what we've already done (to cut defense spending), what the budget proposes and what sequestration will do, it's catastrophic if all three hit us," he said.
Runyan also said he strongly opposes the president's call for another round of military base closings, which could start as early as next year.
Catastrophe indeed. The county can't afford to lose the joint base. Straddling Pemberton Township, Springfield, New Hanover, Wrightstown and North Hanover, the base pumps about $7 billion into the county's economy and is the second-largest employer in New Jersey. There are more than 44,000 military service members, their families and civilians who work or live at the base.
It would be impossible to count the number of businesses -- many of them mom-and-pop shops -- that rely on base residents and workers for their livelihoods.
The joint base's missions are diverse and, in many cases, unique. National Guard and Reserve soldiers, who make up a considerable portion of our fighting force, are trained for deployment at the base. Military missions include the transport of tons of supplies and thousands of personnel overseas. Jets from the installation refuel other military aircraft flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
And jobs at the military post may not be the only ones in jeopardy. Serious cutbacks or a closure could also mean the loss of county-based defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, Sea Box in Cinnaminson, and a number of others, to another region. These are the types of businesses that offer the high-paying engineering and tech jobs we need to keep in Burlington County.
Runyan and other committee members have been meeting with federal, state and local officials to discuss strategies aimed at saving the joint base. One possibility: There are some 47,000 acres surrounding the 67-acre facility -- and Runyan suggested expanding the base by picking up additional training missions and units from other installations.
We're not going to agree with him on every issue, but we support the congressman in his efforts to ensure that there will be a bright future for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
By fighting to protect one of Burlington County's most valuable assets, Runyan is doing exactly what he should -- serving his constituents.