A fresh face is hitting the Central Texas campaign circuit this year.
Louie Minor, a Belton native and Iraq War veteran, is hoping to unseat six-time elected Rep. John Carter in District 31 to represent the people of Central Texas. The district encompasses much of Bell and Williamson counties with a large population of veterans who should be represented by a veteran, Minor said.
The 34-year-old spent a total of 10 years in the armed forces, first in the Texas Army National Guard, then switching to the Army Reserve when he moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 to work for the Department of Homeland Security.
During that time, Minor spent 14 months in Iraq and spent another two years as an executive officer for the Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Now a captain in the Reserve, Minor said living in D.C. during the political gridlock of the past year made him want to get involved in politics.
“(Gridlock) affects everything,” he said. “It affects every aspect of our way of life because they’re unwilling to work. To keep electing the same people to do the same thing is not going to make it stop.”
Then a friend in elected office advised Minor to go for it while he was young.
So he quit his job in July and moved back to Belton, where his 15-year-old daughter is attending Belton High School.
“I wanted to improve lives here in my hometown,” Minor said. “I think this area deserves a veteran representing it. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t relate.”
Currently 20 percent of members of Congress are veterans, according to the Congressional Research Institute.
Of those, 15 are still in the Reserves or National Guard, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois.
The institute’s research shows the number of veterans has continued to decline over the past several decades — from 1981-82 veterans made up 64 percent of the members of Congress and 73 percent 10 years prior.
“One of the saddest parts about the composition of our national government is the percentage of people who serve or have served continues to go down,” said Raul Villaronga, a veteran and former Killeen mayor. “They do not understand the nature of the service.”
Villaronga said he met Minor at League of United Latin American Citizens and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce events and appreciates his enthusiasm and youth.
“I’m very impressed by the fact hat he is willing to take an uphill task, which is what I call anybody running against an incumbent,” Villaronga said.
Upset with what he’s seen in Congress over the past few years, Villaronga said he’d like to see someone in office willing to do the right thing instead of follow party lines.
When it comes to political parties, Minor said he isn’t so much concerned about being a democrat in Texas, but the lack of voter turnout.
“I’m going to work very hard to turn out the vote,” Minor said. “Texas is not a red state like some people would like to tell you. Texas is a nonvoting state. If all the minorities turned out to vote — they tend to vote democrat — that would turn Texas purple at the least. I think people are going to be surprised at what we’re able to do here at the district.”
Voter contact is at the top of Minor’s list to reach out to people, something he personally feels he hasn’t seen from Carter.
“I have concerns and I know a lot of constituents have concerns on the representation we’re getting by electing him,” Minor said. “I think the people of the district deserve a debate. He’s never debated. He may think he doesn’t have to but he has to answer a lot of questions to the military, to retirees, to veterans on how he’s been voting. ... I know I will hold him accountable and I hope the voters hold him accountable as well.”
Carter’s office declined to comment on the possibility of a debate.
The Bell County Democrats support Minor, said Marianne Miller, county chair of the organization, citing his record of public service.
“(This year) is the year where people across Texas and the U.S. are looking for a change and want leaders with records of dedicated public service,” she said. “Mr. Minor fits that bill and will be a voice for everyone regardless of who they are or political affiliation.”
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