Simmons meets with Trump in Washington

Stonington — First Selectman Rob Simmons met with President Donald Trump for 10 minutes on Tuesday following a conference of mayors and county commissioners in Washington, D.C.

Simmons, a former congressman, said that he was among a group of four other small-town leaders who had the opportunity to meet with Trump, whom Simmons said he had never met before.

“I had no idea I’d get to see the president,” he said, adding that aides for the president asked him and the others to meet with Trump.

Simmons said he talked to Trump about the need to upgrade Amtrak rail crossings and assist commercial fishermen suffering under strict regulations and the effects offshore windfarms could have on fishing.

Simmons said he presented Trump with a “Make Commercial Fishing Great Again” bumper sticker, which Trump signed for Simmons to present to Town Dock fishermen. In the spring of 2017 after Trump promised to eliminate regulations that were hurting the economy, local fishermen began placing stickers with the slogan: “President Trump Make Commercial Fishing Great Again” on their vehicles. The stickers also featured a photo of Trump giving the thumbs-up sign.

Earlier Tuesday, Simmons said he was among 120 officials from towns across the Northeast who attended panel discussions on a wide variety of issues facing their communities.

Simmons said he pointed out the inadequacy of Interstate 95 in Connecticut and how two rail crossings in his town have no quad gates or a way to alert an oncoming train that a car or person is on the tracks. Instead, he said the trains sound their horns 5 to 8 seconds before they reach the crossing, which he said is not enough time for someone to get out of the way. For less than $1 million, Simmons said Amtrak could install the equipment for the Elihu Island and Walker’s Dock crossings.

He also discussed commercial fishing regulations that severely limit the number of days boats can fish and how boats have to have government observers on board.

Simmons said he also spoke briefly with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson and political consultant Karl Rove, whom he said he knew from the George W. Bush administration.

Since he had returned, Simmons said the Interior Department has contacted him for more information about the issues facing the fishing industry.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the name of the item President Trump signed for Rob Simmons.

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