Winning a seat on the San Angelo City Council was, at its core, a lot like running a lawn care service for Lane Carter.
The common denominator? Hustle.
As a teen, Carter, 29, grew a venture mowing his mother’s rental properties into an enterprise that eventually employed four others and served 70 clients. Intent on raising funds for medical school, Carter embraced the “challenge and thrill” of satisfying customers.
In May, he unseated a formidable incumbent in the City Council’s District 5 seat by knocking on some 5,000 doors. He won voters’ backing by listening to their concerns and earnestly assuring he’d do what he could to address them.
In both cases, he was, in essence, providing customer service.
“I consider myself a problem-solver, not a politician,” Carter said. “Politicians are out seeking votes. Problem-solvers are out seeking solutions.”
Carter’s medical school ambitions changed when he fell in love with real estate after buying his first rent house (another avenue for raising funds for his post-graduate education) and when his grandmother grew gravely ill. Both circumstances convinced him to stay put in his hometown.
After earning a degree in biology from Angelo State University, Carter enrolled in an ASU program that helps graduates earn a second bachelor’s degree in nursing. He has worked in San Angelo Community Medical Center’s emergency room and, currently, in the Shannon Surgery Center as an operating room nurse.
He takes pride in helping hobbling patients regain full mobility.
“Seeing the before and after of surgery is phenomenal,” he said. “It’s satisfying to know I was involved.”
As was the case with his lawn care business, his real estate holdings have grown. Today, he owns six rental properties, mostly in and around the Santa Rita neighborhood.
He typically targets the worst homes – “Chip and Joanna Gaines houses,” he called them, referencing the hosts of the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” He remodels them, performing much of the work himself.
“People come in and say, ‘Wow!’ That makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it,” Carter said.
He also takes pride in how the projects improve neighborhoods, nudging them toward revitalization. Such concerns, along with the support of others, convinced him to run for the City Council. Carter estimates he had contact with about 6,000 constituents during his campaign by systematically knocking on doors one street at a time for a few hours each night.
“I ran to help people on a large scale,” he said.
To that end, he said he prefers striking a balance between competing views as opposed to choosing sides.
“Satisfying both sides is big to me,” he said. “I like to get together and work issues out.
“And I like being a go-to guy when someone has a problem,” he added. “Even if it doesn’t affect me at all, I take it on a problem as if it was mine. I won’t stop until a problem is solved. Leadership is seeing a problem and running toward it instead of away from it.”