Rep. Drew Ferguson, 50, came to Congress after serving as mayor of West Point, Georgia, for eight years. The Republican freshman talks to HOH about getting into politics, becoming a dentist, and advocating term limits.
Q: What made you want to be a politician?
A: I still don’t want to be a politician. I don’t feel like I’m one.
Our community, it really fell on hard times. I watched a once-vibrant community fall completely apart through loss of manufacturing jobs. We’d seen the effects of too many years being reliant strictly on federal programs to sustain the population. I had to make a decision. Either stay in the community or move, because I couldn’t continue to operate my dental practice the way that I wanted to. So we got involved in local politics and ran for mayor.
Q: What do you miss about being a small-town mayor?
A: You learn very quickly up here that there are so many layers between the federal government and the local government. And when you’re involved in local government, it’s truly like hand-to-hand combat. The things that you do are real and when we pass a bill or resolution at the local level, the impact is direct. And you see the person who’s impacted in line at the grocery store, at church or at the Little League fields.
Up here, a lot of times, I bet people launch a missile and they don’t really see the impact because it’s so far away from them. The exciting thing is, though, as a mayor, I felt I saw firsthand where a lot of the challenges were in our communities. A lot of the roadblocks and the hurdles were a function of Washington policies. What happens is now I have the opportunity to really understand how to address those issues so that our communities can succeed, and that’s an exciting thing.
Q: Did you always want to be a dentist?
A: My grandfather was … a wonderful man — very kind, very talented and he would do everything from deliver your babies to fix your broken leg to treat your head cold. He was one of those kinds of doctors. I had a very close relationship with him and wanted to be like my grandfather.
One day, my family dentist asked me, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” And I said, “I think I want to be a doctor like my grandfather.” And he said, “Before you do, come spend some time with me in the dental practice. I want you to see what dentistry’s like.” And so he mentored me at a relatively early age in high school.
Q: You’re an advocate for term limits. How did that come about? Are you term-limiting yourself?
A: I don’t think that people should stay up here too long, and I can see where, in a lot of ways, this is a self-limiting process. I feel that there are a lot of members that have been up here way too long. I do think that a change in leadership periodically is a good thing. I think term limits would be a good thing.
Q: What do you like to hunt?
A: I grew up in west Georgia hunting with my father and my grandfather. Dove hunting. Quail hunting. I enjoy bowhunting for whitetail deer, turkey hunting, fishing. Really, it’s about the outdoor experience and having some quiet time for myself, but also it becomes a family event. Taking my children hunting is important. It teaches you something about wildlife, conservation, the outdoors, and really about ethical hunting.
I’ve also very much enjoyed over the years the shooting sports. I think that’s been an excellent way to teach my family about gun safety and number one, the fun of shooting. I think it’s a great sport.
Quick hitsLast book you’ve read: “The Conservative Heart” by Arthur C. Brooks
Last movie you’ve seen: “The Accountant”
Favorite song of all time: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones
Role model: My father
Closest to in Congress: Our freshman class is very close. Also, Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Diane Black, R-Tenn., Bill Shuster, R-Pa., (chairmen of committees he serves on), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.