U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, right, talks with SGA President-Elect Chase Goodwin during a student town hall meeting at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LAWRENCEVILLE — When Rob Woodall was first elected to the U.S. Congress, he figured it would be different.
“I thought it was going to be easier to change people’s minds,” said Woodall, who represents Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, during a Wednesday morning visit to Georgia Gwinnett College. “What folks are doing is working the very hardest to represent their constituents.”
Speaking to a group of honors students in the Cisco Auditorium at GGC, Woodall used the example of telling his colleagues to not get in the way of local education successes in their districts, while his colleagues are asking for help because their local school districts are in “shambles.”
Woodall added that he hopes the American economy looks the way in 10 years the way the local economy does today. Some of the bickering that goes on in Congress can be explained by each representative’s constituency having different needs. Yet bickering isn’t always a negative, in fact, in many ways it can be a positive.
“You don’t pay me to be popular,” Woodall said. “You don’t pay me to get good headlines. You pay me to get work done.”
Woodall also said that he disagrees with President Barack Obama on the view of morality.
“How do we get something done that my view of morality is we’ve stolen from your generation to enhance my generation,” Woodall said. “My view is to balance the budget tomorrow. The president’s view is never.”
Incoming Student Government Association President Chase Goodwin said Woodall is another example of political figures visiting the GGC campus to expose students to their thoughts on education. Last week, GGC hosted former Governor Roy Barnes.
“We want them to hear from students about current bills, or bills that have passed,” Goodwin said. “Ask them their actual intentions of things, I think it jolts them a little bit that students at Georgia Gwinnett are paying attention.”
One student asked Woodall if he thought Republicans taking the majority of seats in the U.S. Senate in the November election would help his desire to pass the FairTax legislation. Woodall said it would, but presidential leadership couldn’t be overlooked. Woodall then noted that the FairTax bill broke the record for most co-sponsors of any bill in history.
“It may be risky to co-sponsor the FairTax,” he said. “But it may be more risky to tell your constituency, ‘No.’”
Another student asked Woodall why he voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act bill related to the National Security Agency. Woodall said he would like a thoughtful discussion on the issue because the decision comes down to security versus civil liberties.
“If you err on the side of civil liberties, some people will die,” he said. “If you err on the side of security, some will be oppressed.”