NAPLES — U.S. Rep. Trey Radel said he doesn't think of Southwest Floridians just as his constituents. They're also his neighbors.
On Wednesday night, the Fort Myers Republican said he plans to do whatever it takes to ensure the entire community is represented in Washington D.C., not just the people who voted for him.
"I really want to set a tone, starting right here, right now," he said. "This is home. I'm your neighbor. I'm your friend. I love this community."
Radel was in Naples on Wednesday as part of a district-wide "listening tour." The five-stop tour of the district continues in February with three more Southwest Florida stops.
About 100 people — Democrats and Republicans — attended the event in downtown Naples. Originally scheduled to be held at the Norris Community Center on Eighth Street South, Radel's staff decided to move the event to the bandshell at Cambier Park to accommodate a larger crowd.
Radel held a similar meeting at Edison State College in Fort Myers on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for his office said about 200 people attended that event.
Mickey Gargan, Collier County's Democratic state committeewoman, attended the Naples event, and said she was pleased to see he was reaching out. She said she had wanted to raise her hand to commend Radel for his bipartisan approach, but decided not to after she said she thought the audience's tone shifted near the end of the meeting.
Gargan spoke to Radel after the meeting and said she was encouraged by the fact he was willing to meet with her to talk about issues. That, she said, was more than what she remembers his predecessor doing.
"I don't ever remember (former Rep.) Connie Mack having anything like this," she said of Radel's predecessor, who vacated the seat last year to run a failed bid for U.S. Senate.
Patrick Jira, vice president of Collier County's Young Republican Club, said he was pleased that Radel decided to hold a town meeting so early in his tenure. The move, he said, shows community members he's willing to listen to their concerns.
"It shows he's going to be involved," he said.
Radel talked for 15 minutes about the federal budget and the "monumental challenges" the country could face, before opening the meeting up to questions. Community members asked about the national debt, gun control and immigration.
The issues were similar to those Radel was questioned on at his Fort Myers event.
While Radel told Wednesday's crowd he didn't want the meeting to turn into a way for community members to take shots at one another, the topics of immigration and gun control did get a little heated.
Radel said his goal is to approach proposals with an open mind and work with his fellow legislators to come up with solutions that best fit the country's needs. A bipartisan approach was likely the best way to address many of the country's issues, he said.
Radel will be back in Southwest Florida for similar meetings in Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and Marco Island in February.
"My office is open, my door is open," he said. "I'm here to represent and serve you. I'm here. This is home."