This article appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Congressman Drew Ferguson
In between initial meetings, preparing for the Inauguration and settling into his new office in Washington, D.C., newly elected Congressman Drew Ferguson, and former mayor of West Point, spent some time with Georgia’s Cities
and shared more insight on the plans he has for his new position. Congressman Ferguson represents Georgia’s 3rd congressional district.
GC: How will your local-level experience as former mayor of West Point impact how you serve in your new position?
CF: As a local mayors, we have a unique perspective on what happens when Washington policy is forced upon local governments. We understand the impacts that those policies have better than anyone else, and we know how to identify when they are successful and where they keep our small communities growing and thriving. Having that perspective and bringing that conversation into the legislative process is going to help cities and city government throughout the state.
GC: As a local leader, what was one of the most important lessons you learned?
CF: I’ve had people teach me some good things, and I’ve learned some hard lessons. The thing that I’ve realized is that learning to listen to what members of a community are saying. Then, trying to decipher through the noise and get down to the real message.
I also learned that just because we create jobs doesn’t mean that we are going to change the overall health of the community. We have to be diligently focused on creating jobs, but we also have to translate the economic development down to holistic community redevelopment. That’s going to take a very targeted approach and we have to do things at a federal level that allow communities to take advantage of the opportunities they have. If we don’t change what we are doing to address the issues surrounding the initiators and sustainers of poverty in each community, we are going to continue to see more and more difficulty. We have to have a compassionate and wise heart to address these issues.
GC: What strategy will you use to best serve the cities of Georgia’s 3rd congressional district?
CF: The cities in Georgia are all unique—they have their own personalities, their own needs, their own successes and their own hurdles. Communities need a holistic approach and the flexibility to access programs and decide which is the best way to go. A one-size-fits-all policy is not necessarily helpful to cities throughout Georgia. If we can make targeted investments of public infrastructure that lead to lasting job opportunities and then tie those economic develop projects to education, housing and workforce development to make sure that people have the opportunity to succeed, then that’s the right thing to do.
GC: How can GMA member cities and elected officials assist you in serving Georgia’s 3rd District in Congress?
CF: It’s important to make sure we are communicating well—either direct communication through our congressional office or in partnership with the Georgia Municipal Association. I saw firsthand as mayor how valuable GMA is to the development of communities as a wonderful advocate for cities and people who live in them. Let us know the things that are working well and let us know the things that are holding communities back. Give us that input and then be willing to work with us on positive solutions that get the federal government out of the way and allows our local communities to thrive.
GC: What do you think Congress should know about cities?
CF: Cities are such unique places—particularly the cities in Georgia. The health of the cities is the barometer of the health of our state and nation. If our cities are doing well, than our nation is doing well. We have to look internally at each community and find out where the issues are that we’re facing and be strategic in our approach to solving those. Cities’ centers provide something that not everywhere else can, and that’s a sense of place—a sense of connection.
GC: What are you most looking forward to?
CF: Right now, I am looking forward to getting to work on my committees. I have been assigned to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Education and the Workforce Committee and the Budget Committee. I am most excited about the work that lies ahead of me and getting to participate in that.