Skip to main content

The City Journals

ChamberWest hosts elected and business leaders on a junket to our nation’s capital

Nov 18, 2021 02:55PM ● By Carl Fauver

Mayor Kristie Overson (front, in scarf) was among 28 members of a Utah delegation who recently visited the Taiwanese Twin Oaks Estate in Washington D.C., while in the area to meet with Utah lawmakers. (Courtesy Mayor Overson)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected] 

Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson was one of more than two dozen Utahns who traveled to Washington D.C. late last month, to meet with all six members of our state’s congressional delegation: Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, along with Representatives Blake Moore (Dist. 1), Chris Stewart (Dist. 2), John Curtis (Dist. 3) and Burgess Owens (Dist. 4). 

“I really enjoyed hearing from our business owners; it was a very dynamic trip,” Overson said. “It was exciting to meet with all of our elected representatives. And we spoke with representatives from several other states also.”

ChamberWest President Barbara Riddle and her staff coordinated the junket. However, the 28 Utahns who flew out on Sept. 26 and back on Oct. 1, came from all over our state.

“We had 18 people from ChamberWest: myself and 17 members, including Mayor Overson from Taylorsville and Mayor [Ron] Bigelow from West Valley City,” Riddle said. “The other 10 people on the trip came from the St. George, Davis and South Valley Chambers of Commerce. We are trying to make this an annual trip. We went in 2018 and 2019, but the pandemic forced us to cancel last year.”

That particular week was a busy one in our nation’s capital, as the race was on to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill, along with the larger $3.5 trillion Reconciliation Bill. As the visiting Utahns met with the various elected officials, they say those measures dominated the conversation.

Before meeting with any elected officials, the visitors’ first official event was a field trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a two-hour train ride away, on Sept. 27.

“That was my first visit to Philadelphia, and it was really exciting,” Overson said. “That’s where our [United States] history began, and a great way to begin our trip. We saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It was delightful.”

One of the Taylorsville businessmen who attended the tour was Nick Markosian, owner of Markosian Auto (4238 South Redwood Road). He enjoyed the way the Utah group was treated before they ever arrived in the City of Brotherly Love.

“We really got the VIP treatment from the subway people and Amtrak people,” Markosian said. “They ushered us around so professionally and provided us with a great waiting room. It was first class.”

Nick has operated Markosian Auto 21 years, eight at its Redwood Road location. His wife, Jen, accompanied him on the trip. Why did they pay their own way to go?

“Well, let’s just say [ChamberWest President] Barbara [Riddle] is a good closer; she convinced me,” he said. “I think it’s important [Taylorsville business owners] get to know our elected representatives. You never know when you might need help with some piece of legislation. It was a great trip, and we’ll probably go again next year, if they do it again.”

After returning from Philadelphia, the Utah visitors spent that Monday evening at the prestigious Taiwanese Twin Oaks Estate, where they enjoyed dinner at the invite of Sen. Mike Lee. His Communication Director is Lee Lonsberry.

“There is a strong business relationship between our state of Utah and Taiwan, and our office also has a great relationship with the Taiwanese friendship house,” Lonsberry said. “[Lee] wanted to do something special, because he believes relationships with the Utah business community is important. Traditionally, when constituents meet with the Senator in D.C., they are just quick stops. These kinds of trips allow for more robust exchanges.”

Markosian says another highlight of the trip came two days later when the Utah delegation met with Rep. Stewart, a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“We met Chris Stewart in the Intelligence Committee meeting room, and he told us about the kinds of things the committee deals with,” Markosian said. “I really liked him; he’s a very down-to-earth guy. But I don’t know how representatives can sleep at night after hearing all those things.”

The Utah visitors also received an update from the United States Chamber of Commerce. And several, if not all, of them attended the annual Congressional Baseball Game, a charity fundraising tradition that’s been around since 1909.

On the day before their return to Utah (Sept. 30), legislative analysts from Lee’s office led the group in a discussion of how bills become laws. That meeting was held in the Russell Senate Office Building, just across Constitution Avenue from the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court building and the Library of Congress.

“The whole week was great,” Overson said. “Our Taylorsville businesses are so important to us. It was great to spend time with our business leaders. I enjoyed hearing their questions and learning about the concerns and challenges they face.”