In one of his first tours since taking office as the 9th District representative in the 113th Congress, Doug Collins made several stops in Dawson County to share his goals and ask what he can do to help residents in the community.
Speaking to the Rotary Club of Dawson County on Jan. 10, the Hall County republican also said he has plans to draw from the constituents in the district for guidance and support in the coming months.
"I'm going to be calling on some of you. We're going to be calling on you to help us. What are your ideas?" he said. "I'd love to have your input. We may or may not agree, but I'd love to have your input."
Collins, who was sworn in to office on Jan. 3 and reported a busy first week on the job, said he looks forward to the challenges ahead, including the difficult votes he knows he will face.
On his first day as a freshman member of Congress, Collins said he co-sponsored two pieces of legislation aimed at balancing the budget.
"When leadership is right, they'll have my vote. When leadership is wrong for the 9th District, they're not going to have my vote because that's what I ran on and that's what I believe is right," he said. "I believe in real solutions for real problems."
Collins said much of the nation's problems involve "a lost sight of the very visions the United States is about."
"We've got to look for solutions. As a country, look at the values that unite us and look at the things we can get done to move forward," he said. "That's what you have to do every day in your life. Those are the things that we do every day. One thing that we don't need is to continue doing the same things that have always been done."
The nation's budget crisis will continue to top congress's list of concerns, along with immigration, health care and the firearms discussion after the recent events in Connecticut and Colorado.
"There's no easy answer. I didn't run on what was going to be easy," he said. "I ran on doing the best job that I could and I was going to support people of the 9th district."
On a local level, Collins' comments on the three lakes in the congressional district received a burst of applause.
With the drawing of the new congressional lines, the 9th District now includes Lake Lanier, Lake Hartwell and Lake Russell in the same congressional district.
"I'm going to tell you a little quick secret, what that means is the Corps of Engineers is really going to despise my office," he said. "In fact, they've already called. They said they need to come talk to the congressman about ‘our' lakes."
Collins said he was "infuriated" by the Corps' possessive referral of the lakes.
"It is not ‘your' lakes. It is the people of America's. This is our resource, not the Corps of Engineers," he said. "We're going to have to be working on that. So when you see things coming up, I need your help. I need you to show up. I need you to be a part of it."
During his Dawsonville stop, Collins also toured Dawson County High School where he met with seniors at the school.