By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, faced a tough crowd Wednesday afternoon as Killeen High School students fired off questions ranging from the status of the Iraq War to his take on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
"What do you think about the new health care bill?" one student asked.
"I hate it," Carter said.
"What's your opinion on the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy?" another student asked.
"I'm for the (current) policy," Carter said. "It's nobody's business but their own."
More than 100 government students filled the KHS auditorium to listen to the congressman share stories, answer questions and encourage students interested in politics to pursue their goals.
Carter, a Texas conservative who advocates for small government and less spending, said he wasn't interested in politics growing up.
"I didn't run for class president. It wasn't my thing," he said to the students.
The former lawyer began his political career in 1981 when he was appointed the judge of the 277th District Court of Williamson County and was elected district judge in 1982.
Known as "Judge" on Capitol Hill, he was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and is running for a fifth term in November.
Carter quickly opened up the forum to questions, and stressed that he doesn't try to be politically correct.
"I didn't go to Washington to soft peddle anything," he said.
One student asked if he would help lower electricity costs,
referencing the recent complaints against Oncor. Some residents say hundreds of dollars have been tacked onto their bills since the electric delivery company installed digital smart meters.
"Don't get me started on those new meters. I didn't do it," Carter said as the students laughed. "We have an investigation going on trying to find what it's all about."
When asked about his opinion on the use of alternative energy, Carter said, "I don't think alternative energy is the only option. … All energy is good."
Travis Waltz, a government teacher at KHS, said he invited Carter to speak to his students so they could hear what a congressman does in his own words rather than in a textbook.
"The stories he told today show that he's a real person… and that he cares about what they think," Waltz said.
The school hosted state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, last semester, and Waltz hopes to eventually bring in a U.S. senator.
Near the end of the discussion, Carter encouraged the students to pursue political careers.
"You work long, hard hours… It's not easy. You have to want to do it," he said. "But I encourage you to."
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at email@example.com or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHeducation.