A few dozen people were on hand at the Statesboro Mall Saturday afternoon to express their concerns on a variety of issues to Congressman John Barrow (D-Savannah) as part of his "Congress on the Corner" tour.
"I'm trying to make sure people know they can talk to their congressman without having to make a long trip," Barrow said. "I don't think you should have to make a long trip or make a long distance phone call to talk to your congressman."
Barrow said he hopes to come "as often as he can" to allow people to talk about whatever they want to talk about, whether it be an agency or bureaucracy or if there's a particular issue they want to talk about.
The stop in Statesboro was part of a three-city swing though his district that included Sylvania in the morning and Rincon later in the afternoon. Barrow won re-election to the 12th District seat in November with a narrow victory over Max Burns.
"We've been very pleased with the results because a lot of folks say they've never had an opportunity like this before and I'm trying to create the opportunities to meet with the people I represent."
Barrow said there was a lot of concern about agriculture issues as well as education, jobs and health insurance from the people he'd spoken with. Also, the war in Iraq, social security and Medicare were some of the issues his constituents talked to him about.
"A lot of folks who live in cities may not realize how much the agriculture community has been hit by rising energy prices, especially natural gas," Barrow said.
One of the items Barrow said he's trying to secure funding for is the ethanol plant that is opening in Truetlen County.
"We're very excited that, here in Georgia, we've broken ground on the very first commercially viable ethanol plant from cellulose from pine slash and stuff we have in abundance in the state," he said.
Unlike Barrow's first term when he served in the minority, he's now in the majority party, but he said things haven't changed much for him.
"I'm still a little bit in the minority because I'm a blue-dog Democrat. I'm a fiscal conservative who is trying to govern from the middle," he said. "Whereas in the past, I thought some folks were too far to the right, I have to make sure the folks on our side don't take us too far to the left."
Barrow said he tries to govern from the center of the political spectrum, a place he believes the majority of the people in the country and his district are with their beliefs.
"In the last congress, I was a minority in a minority. Now I'm a minority in a majority," he said.
In addition to the "Congress on the Corner" tour, Barrow's office also announced a staff member will hold weekly office hours every Tuesday fro 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Statesboro Regional Library to help answer questions and address issues and concerns.