Making Transitions with Jay Dean, Republican Member of the Texas House of Representatives

In this episode, Host Michael interviews family friend, local businessman, and oh, yeah, Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives Jay Dean. Within this discussion, Jay gives us an overview of his professional career, his transition from business to politics, and how the former prepared him for the latter. 

Not only will you catch a glimpse of the current political climate, but you’ll also hear some of the most pressing issues in the Texas community, and what the House is doing to remedy them. All in all, Jay touches on a lot of different facets of politics and business, and we can learn a lot from his impressive career.

Show Episode Transcript

Manufacturing Leadership

Making Transitions with Jay Dean

Welcome to Manufacturing Leadership, a podcast for young professionals in and out of the oil and gas industry. And now here's your host Energy Weldfab's, Michael Clements.

Micahel C.: What's up listeners, welcome to another episode of manufacturing leadership, I'm your host Michael Clements, and we've got a fun show planned. Today we have an exciting guest; he's an entrepreneur and politician who value his friendships and wonderful family. Let's welcome to the show Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives for House District seven Jay Dean.

Jay Dean: What's up Mike?

Michael C.: How are you doing today Jay?

Jay Dean: Man it's all good, but glad to be with.

Michael C.: Yes sir, well I'm super excited to have you here, just a little background I've known Jay, been going to his crawfish bowl since I was a little kid, I think he and my dad go back just a couple of years.

Jay Dean: Yes, I tried to recruit you away from him but he wouldn't let that happen, I think I got you a raise.

Michael C.: So we're just going to have a little conversation with Jay today, we're going to be talking about making transitions. Jay's lived an exciting life and we're going to get started, so Jay tell us a little bit about yourself, where'd you grow up?

Jay Dean: I grew up in Opelousas Louisiana, small town right off of Interstate 10 just north of Lafayette Louisiana.

Michael C.: All right, here in the word Opelousas it makes me feel like I'm in a restaurant about to order some type of fish.

Jay Dean: Oh man home of Jim Bowie, Opelousas catfish too.

Michael C.: And then you went to school in Louisiana too huh?

Jay Dean: I sure did.

Michael C.: Where was that?

Jay Dean: I went to the Academy of the Immaculate Conception for 12 years graduated in 1971 and went to the LSU Tiger foundation in Baton Rouge.

Michael C.: So I take it you're still the Tigers fan?

Jay Dean: Oh absolutely yes, you're always purple and go.

Michael C.: Yes sir. Tiger fans you all just kind of get into your teams?

Jay Dean: Yes, that's good and bad we have some rabbit fans to say the least you know, but you know it's a good atmosphere, it's a great tradition and like my great friends here when it comes to Texas and Texas is in them you know footballs a big deal in the state of Louisiana.

Michael C.: Yes sir. Well a little more background on yourself, how about your family?

Jay Dean: Yes, well my family I grew up in a family with seven kid’s six brothers and a sister, married one of my early high school girlfriends in 1979 and she came from a family of eleven, ten girls and one boy.

So we got married 1979, came out of college, prepared to go to law school, went to work with the man that had moved his manufacturing facility from Framingham Massachusetts, he was a Harvard MBA and got his master's in engineering from MIT and I went to work with him in between the end of my college work, undergrad work before I started law school and for the first time in my life started making money I said you know what St. Landry Parish got plenty of lawyers I think I like sales a whole lot better, so that's where we went.

Michael C.: Alright, and you said that was all field related?

Jay Dean: Yes it was my primary focus was I was a manager of marketing sales for everything west of the Mississippi which this was pipe fittings and valves and things such as that, so of course the heart of my business was all in gas industry.

Michael C.: Okay, so I guess what's up next is at some point you came to Texas?

Jay Dean: Yes, in 1981 I woke my wife up about 4:30 one morning, one Sunday morning a matter of fact her mom and dad was staying with us and I explained to my father-in-law the night before. But I traveled quite a bit in this area and really just fell in love with East Texas and the piney woods and just great people, so we drove up one Sunday I think I had her convinced between Opelousas and Shreveport that we ought to make this move and start our own business.

So came in on that Sunday rented a building, rented apartment, drove home back then there was no high 49, so drove back six hours of home and walked in my boss's office the next Monday morning, that Monday morning and gave my resignation in August first in 1981 we were here in Longview Texas, been here since.

Michael C.: All right, so that was the start of your entrepreneurship?

Jay Dean: Yes, I was 20-26 years old and thought if I didn't try it at that time I felt like if it didn't work out I was going to be young enough to be able to go back to work for somebody else, but by the grace of God and the really great, I mean we knew absolutely no-one here and the fact that we were able to meet folks here and become friends here and only friends I had back then with my customers, that was the only people I knew so that was very beneficial to our business having those types of relationships.

Michael C.: So are there any stories early on that really influenced you as you were starting out in business?

Jay Dean: I mean as far as I mean like personal stories or you know my family, my dad was a tugboat captain for 48 years and you learn some life lessons working offshore and things.

The thing that encouraged me I was always, my grandmother and grandfather always used to kid about being a dreamer and I like to dream and think about bigger things, so it just motivated me to want to be my own man and my own person and do things that I thought long term would be great for my family.

Michael C.: Well was everything just smooth right off the bat?

Jay Dean: No, absolutely not.

Michael C.: Or were there some ups and downs there?

Jay Dean: In 1981, in August that year we were in the midst of a pretty good upturn in the oil and gas business. By 1982, like we well knowing the industry right, in oil and gas one day is great the next day it's terrible, I mean they can shut the valve off right now and the business stops and so we went through a really tough turn down in 1983. And of course not having been established for very long obviously we didn't have the capital to sit on and wait for the upturn, so we really had to hustle hard to make it.

And I'll tell you the freeze of 1983 was the turning point, we were able to pick up some work selling chemical pumps to the oil and gas industry, because there was probably two to three week period of time that the temperature didn't get above freezing and of course all the natural gas wells we had in the area were freezing and so they needed methanol. So that project right there propelled me and kept me in business, and again by the grace of God I was able to stay through the next several downturns that we had.

Michael C.: Well overall since you've started in business and whenever you kind of began your political career, what do you think's harder starting in business or starting in politics?

Jay Dean: Oh I think starting in business is harder, but either one starting in business or starting politics it's about building relationships, I mean most people know me I'm not a shy person I speak my mind and I try to listen to other people and try to build a relationship of trust. Now we may not always agree on something, but at least I want to hear a person out and I want them to hear me out. Same way with selling and same way with running your business, I mean when it comes to the clients that you serve and the employees that you manage you've got to have that kind of trust relationship with them so that they want to follow your leadership or they want to buy the product that you sell.

Same thing in politics, politics for the most part has a lot of people with huge egos and so you have to you have to learn how to work through some of these egos to get to the heart of what the issues are. And again I compare that same as you have to do in building a business, what are the issues or what are the products that we want to sell, what are the services we want to provide and how you work your way through getting people on board to follow your dream or your ideas.

Michael C.: So you made the transition from Louisiana to East Texas, started your business, went through a rough patch very early on that can be extremely difficult downturns in the oil and gas industry.

Jay Dean: Very scary too.

Michael C.: Yes sir. So you made it through the transition of moving here, you made it through the transition of a downturn, a few downturns now. I guess at what point were you saying hey I think I can offer more to my community, I think I can do more public service?

Jay Dean: Well that really didn't come as part of some predetermined plan, matter of fact I happened to be playing golf one Friday with a good friend of mine in my insurance agent David McWhorter back in 1997 and he was a mayor. David was a good business guy and he and I were playing golf, riding together in the golf cart and we just got started talking about it and at that time we were trying to recruit some business people to step up and to pursue the City Council.

Longview had been through the same up-and-down turns, I mean let's face it today East Texas basically follows the oil and gas industry, doesn't matter what end of the business you're selling cars, TVs, computers oil and gas drives our economy. So they were looking for I say they just various people in the community were trying to recruit business people to come and hopefully running and become members of the council, to help plot a course long term for the city of Longview.

And I didn't really think real hard about that and more and more I thought about it I thought you know this community was really good to me, it was great to my wife and I and if there's anything I can do to give back I'd sure like to pursue doing that. And we were fortunate we were elected in 1999, the City Council is a representative from district 5, the Spring Hill area.

Michael C.: Okay, so your first political position with City Council in Long View?

Jay Dean: Correct.

Michael C.: All right and so you were still working and doing your oil and gas business?

Jay Dean: Oh sure, that was the thing David, Mayor McWhorter oh don't worry we only meet twice a month and I'm thinking well that's not real bad. Of course he didn't really give me a book of how to and all the different things you have to do to prepare for those two times a month meetings, and back during that time Spring Hill was recently annexed into the city of Longview and that did not go well, there was a lot of Spring Hill folks that really did not appreciate Longview annexing them.

And there was a lot of acrimony at the time, and of course me being a newcomer I think worked to my advantage because I worked hard at bringing the new folks and the old folks together, and try to get some things done, simple things I mean they were annexed and they didn't have city water, a sewer.

Well thank God today if a city annex is an area they have a short period of time that they have to provide the basic services, so it was an interesting time for that district, I enjoyed working with the folks up there and getting some really nice things done I mean we worked helping build some new schools, putting in some water infrastructure, we built several new roads Spring Hill Parkway that is when the idea about the George Ritchie extension started.

Michael C.: It has been wonderful.

Jay Dean: Oh it's a fabulous deal, I told people back then I mean look 30 years from now the George Ritchie extension that Gilmer Road at George Richert probably looked like Fourth Street and the loop looks like today. I mean it has that potential and that extension opened up about 1100 acres of property for future development.

Spring Hill continues today to be, I hate to use a word bedroom is derogatory, but that's probably the only open nice quality property inside the city limits of Longview today where people can build their dream home and that type of thing. But then the initial ideas came from some of the other Street projects that we did up in the spring of area deer nose, those times.

Michael C.: So how was it making the transition from just being in business to be in now business and politician?

Jay Dean: Well I mean I couldn't have gotten into politics if it had not been for the great staff I had at my business, I mean I'm not going to say it was on autopilot but the first thing I did when I decided to go into politics was to make sure that I had a really good management staff and we were able to manage very well with me not having to be in the office from 8:00 to 5:00.

So someone that's in business that wants to pursue a career in politics your business and family comes first, and you make sure that you got all those ducks in a row because if you're going to do any job in politics the right way, my humble opinion you have to commit to the time and put the effort, I mean this isn't an automatic pilot kind of job, politics shouldn't be that way. We represent the people that elect us and to spend the quality time that they need from us is important, just like spending quality time with your staff in managing a business so that you're not sacrificing there either.

Michael C.: So this is now 20 years that you've been in politics and in business if 98 was here that you were elected, so it already speaks testament to your leadership ability to know that your team stood with you and you've been able to do this for as long as you have, as well as continue to build a business, continue to build multiple teams because once you're a politician you also have your political team as well.

So that's really exciting, that's also got to be encouraging for any leader out there or any younger person that's wanting to go into politics that's maybe in business that needs encouraging.

Jay Dean: And again I think my calling came on undoubtedly this was some plan God had for me because I surely wasn't out looking to get into politics, but I think the good Lord brought me together with someone that was looking for help and I was just very blessed and fortunate that I could step up at that time. Our nation is in a whole different place today than I think we've ever seen it and we need people, good quality people to step up because today with social media and things such as that it really turns really good people that would be great candidates that have so much to offer it turns them away.

I mean when you run for any office I don't care if it's running for the school board, running for Commissioner's Court, running for the City Council, running for a representative job listen your whole life's is put under I mean intense scrutiny and that's good, because if you've lived your life right and if you have faith in God that you follow, I mean you have a road path to follow and so you've stayed away from some of the things that people get into that become a major distractor when they run for political office.

So we need good people to step up, we need people to plan their careers but this country needs great leadership to step forward and help us through the next 10 to 15 years because it's going to be different times.

Michael C.: It seems like on a national level it's definitely just the last half decade it's really gotten to be nasty in politics.

Jay Dean: Well it's corrosive and it's unfortunate that the Democratic Party is just absolutely obstructing anything that president Trump's attempting to do, and listen you can say this out of the other about President Trump but he is our president, he was duly and legally elected and the people spoke and he has an agenda. I believe his agenda for the country and that's what I enjoyed about we'll get talking about being mayor of Long View, the greatest joy I had as mayor of Long View was being the number one cheerleader for the city of Long View. By God this is my community from the perspective that I represented it and if you started talking bad about Longview you going to get my dander up pretty quick, and that's what he's doing for the United States.

Hey we've had some bad deals in trade, we've got terrible immigration policy, but the Democratic Party and to some extent certain areas of the Republican Party are fighting the guy at every turn and it's very corrosive and disruptive. Again that's why we need good people to step forward, look at how many people that are retiring right now from Congress hey we've had enough, I can have a really great job that I don't have to put up near the stress that I'm going through so why do I want to do this, and we've got to continue to recruit really good and I'm going to use term young, but good young potential with new ideas, fresh ideas to help our country work through these difficult times.

Michael C.: One thing that I recall a conversation I had with your chief of staff in Austin last year was, we were talking about state and national politics and he said one of the things that's really nice about our state politics is even Republicans and Democrats they'll tend to get a lot more done down in Austin because the conservative values are pretty much there for most of the folks down there.

And so you get past that part of it pretty easy verses at the national level, and like you're saying just this next wave, this next generation of politicians I hope there's just better manners on the national level, the state level I feel like it's fun but the national level some of the conversations, the things I hear, the tweets I hear it's outrageous.

Jay Dean: Yes, that's again social media and hey as mayor for ten years my city attorneys advised against me being on Facebook and Twitter and that kind of thing, because there were some potential legal things with that. But once I ran for state representative I really started getting into the Facebook stuff and sharing and communicating that way, but man some of the stuff that comes out from people and you stop and think my god did they really say that and that rhetoric needs to tone down.

And again from the national perspective our president deserves a chance to promote his agenda, I think his agenda is a good conservative agenda and he was elected by the country and we need to let him do his job and these obstructionists need to get out of the way and let the people have their say which is how he was elected.

Michael C.: So whenever you were a mayor I just want to ask, what was the night like of the first election?

Jay Dean: Oh the night I first got elected?

Jay Dean: Yes, for mayor.

Jay Dean: Oh man, yes that was pretty interesting. So we had a mayor that was elected I think in 2003 and he decided in 05 and that happens, hey what I thought I was getting into and what I'm into is really not good, I mean he wasn't comfortable there obviously, I thought he was doing a good job but it wasn't his cup of tea. So I had planned run for mayor after he finished his term, but kind of got thrown into it like a year and a half sooner than what we were ready to do. So it was five, I think it was five candidates to run and then I got a runoff with another member that was sitting on the council Andy Mark and we had a pretty contentious runoff and I was very blessed to win that runoff election.

And the night of it I'll never forget I told my wife I said we just got elected mayor, now what did we do? And she looked at me well what do you mean, I said well I never really thought about if I was elected what I was going to do and so the whole night, I think I stayed up the whole night just thinking about that. It's kind of like the barking dog syndrome, dog runs chasing the car every day I mean bark chase car chase finally the dog catches the bumper, now what do I do with this car, so that was what it was like. Of course I got quite a few phone calls and one from someone you know very well and Michael Clements senior and it was a hoot, he gave me all kind of stuff, but yes the first night was like hey you won, now what are you going to do.

And so that kind of started the whole process of laying out, just like you're doing business hey these are my goals and objectives and etc. and it started there and then it was a matter of bringing the council together. We were going through sort of a corrosive atmosphere on the City Council, we had people talking to one another in such vile ways and it was not going the right way and my first thing was bringing about decorum, and had each one of the members signed basically a contract of how we were going to conduct our business in a professional manner, that we were going to dress professionally, we had people showing up short pants and a t-shirt which I think the City Council Chamber it belongs to the citizens of any community and I mean we should respect that. I'm not going to say it's like going to church, but you know what when I always felt like when I walked into the city council chamber that this represents the citizens of Long View and I should present myself in all manners recognizing and appreciating that and so we signed and set some decorum and got started.

Michael C.: So you got a few things done while you were mayor too?

Jay Dean: Yes, we were very fortunate, we had a good run.

Michael C.: What do you think was one of your greatest accomplishments for you and your team while you were mayor?

Jay Dean: Well you know I think the main thing was the getting focus on some quality of life issues, we had inherited if you will or been donated land out on the South Loop I would say by Bill Lear who owned a lot of the I think it was Sonic drive-in small but Mr. Lear bought this property and donated it to the city and I give credit to the mayor at that time when we got the land Earl Roberts Jr. and he was a great guy but now what he do with it? So we were leasing property from Stroh's brewery at the time where we could play baseball and some soccer, so the first thing we had to do was to build Lear Park.

So I was elected in 05, I served one year and then had to run again in 06 and then in 07 we had a bond election for about 28 million dollars I think and that money went to primarily building all of the infrastructure for Lear Park, we built the Paul Bormann walking trails, we went out to the long park trail and enhanced and fixed it up, but those were the quality of life things that people were looking for that we didn't have at the time, so that was the first real big project.

Michael C.: Yes, just driving around Long View today you see walking trails, there's parks in a lot of places, Long View really is a great place to live and there's always seems to be a nice place you can go that's outside.

The only critique I would have is it would have been nice to put in an air conditioning unit that was outdoor to cool this place off because it's hot in Texas, I see people in those walking trails at 5:00-5:30 in the afternoon and serious man it is hot, they're better than I am.

Jay Dean: Yes, but the Bormann trail and of course the last thing in 2015 as I was finishing out, thank God Longview does have term limits so you served three terms, but we put together a comprehensive planning organization and one of the things that came out of that was how to tie all these trails together. We inherited some property by Town Lake Village to where you could tie Guthrie Creek into Paul Bormann trail, we were able last session to get a really neat grant from I think it was Texas Parks and Wildlife to the tune of three million dollars to go to our development of the park that ties well from Paul Bormann across Guthrie Creek all the way to the long trail off of fourth Street.

So now you're talking about ten roughly miles of nice trail and so that was the beginnings of completing that particular part of the project. Now we did another bond election, talking about some accomplishments, I think the bond election of 2011 was 52 million dollars of which 70% of that went to the old areas of long view like Green Street, cotton Street so much of the Downtown I really feel great about what we've done downtown, we've rebuilt now all of the streets surrounding the courthouse in and around the courthouse and a lot of that was to bring people back to downtown.

But this particular bond election in 2011 we had to replace infrastructure like water and sewer lines, some of those lines were a hundred years old and we were spending so much money coupling and fixing and so that bond election really updated and a lot of it went to the south side of Long View because it's the oldest part of town to bring that up to date. So what I tried to do as mayor was make sure that no part of the of the city felt like we weren't paying attention to them, I got my early start at Spring Hill, everybody knew me there and of course when I was first elected to the Southside folks came together well you don't know anything about the Southside because you're a spring and I said wait a minute, before you start criticizing me you just wait okay and so I'm very fortunate that I have very good friends on all sides in the city of Long View.

Michael C.: Well what kind of perks were there to be a mayor I got to ask that.

Jay Dean: Hell man, let me think it was $250 a month as a city council member, you got a raise when you became mayor to $500, by time you finish paying your cell phone bill which you had to pay you probably actually costing you to be mayor and that's a really great thing. Being from Louisiana and the way they pay their politicians you get some real crazy people that run for office just because of the check and thank God in Texas we don't have that.

Michael C.: So one of the differences, one of the things I wanted to ask as we start to make the transition to you becoming member of the house representatives here in Texas, how different was elections in 2005 versus your election to house?

Jay Dean: Well again in 05 there was a little bit of social media that was at play but by 2015-2016 that the technology had changed so much. One of the ways or the main reason I won in 25 was every debate I had with the current mayor was, well he's not from Longview and I was born and raised in Longview, of course I would battle back, well if that's the case what you're saying is if you're not born and raised in Longview Texas you're not welcome, so I guess it means everybody that works out at Eastman Chemical and some of these so I guess they're not welcome, well that's not what I meant, well anyway.

But I think what I felt I needed to do was I started door knocking, I went through every neighborhood in the city of Longview knocking on doors, introducing myself and at that time that wasn't being done, but I got to look people in the eye on their front porch and talk to them about issues. And again it goes back to my business background I enjoy selling, I mean I enjoy promoting so that helped me from that perspective. So we fast forward it to 2015-2016 the technology now from a grassroots perspective on door knocking and I think during my election for the house we knocked on some 28 to 30,000 doors, but we walked around with a laptop we knew who was behind the door, when was the last time they voted we didn't know who they voted for, but we knew whether they lean republic, they lean Democrat but the technology had gotten so advanced.

I mean I was blessed as mayor I didn't really have any serious opponent for the ten years I served, so I didn't have to do as much door knocking. I wasn't involved or had the technology to look at or needed to look at, so when I run for state rep now I started looking at the technology and you mentioned my chief of staff early I'm very proud of Danny [Inaudible 00:33:29.23]

Michael C.: He's wonderful.

Jay Dean: Yes, down in Austin and of course locally my district director Sharon Williamson who I've been with her for so long and so many different campaigns, I mean it's almost like having another sister or something. But he was working for the consultant that I use in Maine in tech knowledge that's why I went with him, their grassroots technology was phenomenal so that helped us tremendously.

Michael C.: So your election was 2016 correct?

Jay Dean: Right.

Michael C.: So you ran in 2016 social media a lot of things are different, you know you had mention whenever you ran for mayor you did the door-to-door conversations, I'm guessing you still did some of that whenever you ran for representative.

Jay Dean: Oh absolutely, yes.

Michael C.: Was there anything; were there any conversations that you had with some of the locals here that really influenced you in your first term?

Jay Dean: Well you know I really thought I was going to finish up my term as mayor, I've served ten years there, I think it was seven years some seventeen years on the city. I think I've served our community, I loved it and it wouldn't change anything about that, so I felt like my political career I was going to go into retirement mode from that perspective. But some of the other local elected people started talking to me about running for this seat, at the time we had a sitting state representative guy by name of David Simpson who I really respect a lot. Didn't know at the time but there was some thought that he may want to run for Senate, so they this group continued to talk to me about running, they knew my passion for representing the community.

And my House District seven is roughly like all districts, they're roughly a hundred and seventy to one hundred eighty thousand people, but the heart of that was Gregg County which was where my base was. So I thought that with my background is mayor in etc. that it might lend itself well to represent us in Austin and that's how this kind of all came together. I mean again I like being the cheerleader for our community, I've just got a bigger community now and somebody's going to talk bad about Gregg up shit County they're going to have this guy right here on them pretty quick.

Michael C.: What was your first stay in Austin like?

Jay Dean: Well the first day man was the swearing in and let me tell you when you walk into this unbelievable chamber and take your seat.

Michael C.: We have a gorgeous capital.

Jay Dean: Oh I mean to me and I've seen a lot of them, it's by far the classiest I mean it personifies Texas, it's unbelievable. When you take your seat you start looking out in front toward the speaker dice and you see pictures of Austin and pictures of Travis and all of these unbelievable Texans that came before us and then you start thinking about Texas as a 10th largest economy in the world.

And these things started going and I'm kind of almost falling back to the night I was elected mayor, oh you got elected state representative now what you're going to do? And so I mean it's very humbling, the fact that you're representing a hundred and seventeen hundred eighty thousand people, the fact that we're the tenth largest economy and there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that. The fact that you're a fiscal conservative Republican and you're wanting to continue to use those same values that you did as a mayor just on a much bigger platform right, so it was great I really did enjoy it.

Michael C.: So if you had to give a rating to your first time, how would you rate yourself?

Jay Dean: Oh it depends on how many bills did you get past, what committees did you get on, from the bill perspective income and freshman most of the major bills that are promoted by various lobbyists or various organizations that have issues they won't address, well they go to the senior members to carry those major bills. And one thing always to watch is a House bill or a Senate bill, when they've got a number in between 1 and 300 those are the primary bills, those are the Big Kahuna's because we will get 6000 bills that'll be filed, so the higher the number goes up the importance that leadership thinks those bills need.

So the rest of us are so freshmen I would compare us to the schooling of catfish at the bottom, we're down here trying to feed at the bottom trying to find something some kind of legislation that we can carry, just to feel like we were part of the process. Well in my case I was truly blessed to carry some local legislation that it didn't require me to be part of that big leadership pack, we took the synthetic marijuana bill to a new level in knocking out a lot of the various compounds that are used to form just a deadly, dreadful drug that was taken the lives and the sanity away from kids and actually grown-ups right here in our own communities, so we got a really good bill passed. I call it the dead person voting bill that we did, and basically that's a bill whereby the Secretary of State advises the local elections officials when someone dies so that their name is removed from the voter blocks right away.

As mayor several times you do mailers, I had grandmother's or mother's calling me very upset that I sent a mail to their deceased son and he's been dead for ten years, well ma'am I'm sorry to say and I've got the list of who voted sitting next to me, well I'm sorry to tell you but your son voted two years ago. Well it couldn't be 10 years, well that shows that there's some fraud that's taking place right so we put something in place to remove that part of the fraud. We did a local bill for a very good friend of your dad and I, with you I think also Jack Ward, gentle Jack who died unexpectedly in a car accident on highway 31. So we dedicated a portion of highway 31 from highway 42 to the Smith County Line, it's a Jack Ward Memorial Hospital.

And then the last thing was the award that we won for Travis Watkins, the army guy that had been given the I guess Medal of Honor in each session the state acknowledges a Texas Medal of Honor and I had Travis Watkins great guy, fought in World War two, moved from Arkansas to Gladewater, started his family and then when the Korean conflict broke out he re-upped himself and just his story is fabulous, if you google Travis Watkins and look at his story unbelievable.

But I had to make the presentation almost like when you file a bill and I had two senior members that had people with probably the same credentials as our Travis Watkins had, and was very fortunate that we won the Texas Medal of Honor for Travis Watkins, so that was a neat deal. The committee thing was important and appropriations is the people, we have a two hundred billion dollar budget for every two years and so being appointed to appropriations was a big deal because typically freshmen don't get that, but I think with the financial background from business end and as mayor helped me win a good committee there, so I feel all in all we did fine.

Michael C.: Well from my perspective I got to come down in Austin and first term within just I think you all were in session, probably really right in the middle of session when I came down, I was introduced to your entire team down there which everybody was wonderful. Daniel took great care of us; we were treated like family down there.

Jay Dean: And Mike we sure want to encourage people to come, that really is a highlight of the staff’s day when people from the district come down, so we'd really enjoyed having you all and we want to encourage people to do that. That's your capital, it's your it's your House chamber, our office is your office, so we like having people coming down to really get a feel for how the whole process works, so we enjoyed having you down and your lovely wife of course.

Michael C.: Yes sir. We had a blast when we came down and for the listeners the reason why we were down there is Jay had worked on a bill for my parents and he presented it on the House floor for their philanthropy and what they've done here in the East Texas area, and so Jay I really want to thank you for that, that was a wonderful experience.

Jay Dean: You probably heard me get a little choked up with this.

Michael C.: Yes sir, I did.

Jay Dean: I go way back with your dad, he and I started our businesses very close to the same time and when we both get together it’s fun. Man I mean we sit back and think of some of the old times and we still wonder how we made it through all the downturns and whatnot, but one thing about sweet Amy and your dad is they never pass an opportunity to give back and especially for the less fortunate and what does the Bible tell us about us taking care of the least of us and man they continue to be wonderful.

Michael C.: Well Jay from what I saw when I was down there, I saw a hustler and I saw somebody who was getting after it for his folks back here, so I want to tell you thank you for that, for what you did for our family but also really what you're doing for our local folks here and what you're doing as a representative.

Jay Dean: Well again I'm the biggest cheerleader for House District seven, our tittle is state representative we represent the people of this district and a lot of people don't understand sometimes like right now during the interim we're not in session, so much of our work is people that have issues with the bureaucracy of Austin. They're trying to get a driver's license fixed and we've worked with doctors that are moving in from other states trying to get their licensing done, military people that they haven't received their retirement checks, God bless the teachers and all the things that they're going through and the retired teachers.

So we get involved with a lot of issues that are basic life issues to ordinary people and I feel it's our responsibility to we get a call to try to help wade through and be the liaison between a citizen and the bureaucracy of Austin to make sure that we get quick responses and get them to help their need, a very big part of the job.

Michael C.: I've always been really curious as to like what the job really entails after sessions over and what goes on after that?

Jay Dean: Yes, well we continue to meet so I'm on appropriations, I'm on the International Finance and Services Commission. I was also appointed to the Op Special Select Committee on the study of the opioid abuse and the epidemic, I'm also on the new cybersecurity Select Committee which we're studying and looking and meeting and talking about trying to safeguard ourselves from all the cybersecurity attacks. The state of Texas has probably, I can't remember how many millions of attempts per day that people are trying to hack our system, so it's very interesting work there.

So we're meeting on those committees, thank God I'm home most of the time, I kid with people I said I love Austin but I love home more, there's some real crazies when I come to Austin, so we stay with the real people as much as we can. But we'll have those meetings and then like I said we're also dealing and talking to people about issues, I'm going to be hosting some town hall meetings come to fall so we can start talking about the real issues. What we're going to do about these crazy property taxes we have and how are we going to really and truly have a meaningful reduction in property tax and we have to fix good finance to do that. We're going to continue to talk about the border and this whole immigration problem that we have, we're going to talk about making sure that our teachers are finally taken care of in the right ways and the retired teachers we've got to have a permanent fix, we can't keep band-aiding things.

And there's going to be several other I mean the second Amendment rights, we got to make sure that the Democrats don't come with some more of that type of rhetoric to think they're fixing something that they're really not, so we're looking forward to those town hall meetings. And I watched a virtual town hall meeting last night that mayor magnet and I thought it was interesting, but I guess I'm old school, I like getting an auditorium full of people where I can look them in the eye and they can look me in the eye and I can really feel their passion and feel mine and have a really good debate that way, I thought the virtual was pretty interesting, but mine are going to be in locations where people hopefully can come out and really press the flesh if you will and talk to us about their issues.

Michael C.: So do you have anybody running against you this election?

Jay Dean: No, I do not, we didn't have a primary course Republican, primary was back in March and now the general election is in November and I didn't have a Democrat opponent, so we're happy about that. But we're ready to get to work, we've got some big things in Austin coming, we don't know who the new speaker is going to be that's going to be a major issue going in. Because with Joe Straus we knew who the speaker was, so work was already going on before the session so I remember the sessions a hundred and forty days, so we need to get to work pretty quick six thousand bills okay so we need to go to work.

Now we don't know who the speaker is so we've got to get a speaker in place day one, that person has to then appoint committee chairs and then start taking the filing of bills and laying out from a leadership perspective what are the true issues of the session that we want to focus on, and then throw on top of all of that we have this whole hurricane Harvey event that's costing a lot of money, it's costing I mean a lot of depression to a lot of people that are still in tough shape from the storm and it's going to affect everything that we do. Insurance, property tax value, school finance I mean there's going to be a lot of things that Harvey's going to touch and so we've got a very important session coming.

Michael C.: Well you all are going to definitely have a lot to do and it's a busy hundred and forty days, is there a possible extension on those hundred and forty days?

Jay Dean: Like last session we had a special session which typically is thirty days at least, I've heard some times where they had like five or six special sessions in a row they didn't think they'd ever get home. But hopefully if we organize and plan we should get the citizens work done in 140 days, those special sessions cost millions of dollars and if we're doing our business we shouldn't cost the taxpayer that money.

Michael C.: Well Jay I got a couple just I guess kind of political questions for you here as we end the show, but just what are your thoughts on the outcome of the National midterms?

Jay Dean: Well let's see how that works, I know president Trump's out working hard, I mean can't turn the TV on and he's not in some state promoting some candidates. I'm very hopeful that we don't lose the house or the Senate; unfortunately historically you find that during midterms whether it's a Democratic president or Republican president you see this switch over.

I mean if we end up with one or the other house of the city being controlled by the Democrats as bad as it is now, where we control all three branches of government. But as bad as it is right now if we lose one of those houses of the Senate man the president's whole agenda to me is doomed and we can't have that.

Michael C.: Well it's going to definitely, unfortunately I think it's going to get really nasty towards the end.

Jay Dean: Oh it already is and it's going to be a lot of money spent and it's going to be one of those last man, last person standing situation and we have some of the same issue here in Texas. We're right now in a house where 95 Republicans to 55 Democrats there's a real good chance that the areas like the metropolitan areas that were strong Hillary Clinton areas, that our good conservative Republicans are going to lose out to some liberal Democrats and if that happens some of the agenda, conservative agenda that we continue to work on in the state of Texas is going to be much more difficult than it's been okay, so we're going to have to work real hard here in Texas to make sure that we don't see five, I've heard as little as five seats probably going to change could be as many as 12.

We start losing 12 conservative members of the House not to mention the Senate, but just in the house that's going to make a good conservative passage of good conservative programs very difficult.

Michael C.: So what topics do you really feel are going to influence Texas politics over the next decade?

Jay Dean: Well again I think figuring out this whole property tax situation, I mean it's really pretty sad I mean the state has managed to reduce its portion of the school finance cost okay. At one point in time it always stayed the local taxing entity school district paid 50 percent of the cost, state paid 50. Well over the years different things have taken place, but today the local school district or taxpayers of school district are paying 64 percent to 36 percent by the state that's got to change, we cannot keep taxing people out of their homes. And that can't happen until we fix public school finance.

Public school finance is one of these mix matches of things and I've always used the putting together of a blanket, you patch different pieces of material together, we've got a patchwork public school finance system some of it as old as 40 years ago that we've got to clean up and fix and the state's got to take a larger share of what we pay for public, because that's a constitutional obligation that we have. That we have to pay for pub Ed, well we've got to get a better handle on that, I think it could be the major issue because it involves teachers, it involves retired teachers, it involves the retired people and how much tax they pay and that's going to be a really big issue I think.

Michael C.: You see legislation on the national level or even the state level impacting the oil and gas industry a lot in the next two to five years?

Jay Dean: You know that's hard to say Mike, the big deal is the oil and gas lobbies are very big, they hold a pretty big stick and so if any on the state level legislature on the national level president or anybody else gets too far off track. I mean one thing about President Trump he's got a lot of ideas, some of them aren't the greatest I mean I've been a little bit discouraged a time when he starts talking about the oil and gas business about hey Saudi Arabia shit more oil so you can drive the price down, but wait a minute Mr. president we got plenty oil here, why not work on infrastructure here in the United States to get the oil to the marketplace, we got plenty oil.

So let's don't try to talk to Saudis into opening their spigots we got our own, so let's promote our own. I mean I’m not hearing of anything that gives me concern at this time, the oil and gas industry is probably the greatest example of supply and demand, free market enterprise. And I think anybody that's gone through what we've gone through in the oil and gas business, over the years and downturns but from a business perspective businesses to go through the wild swings that we do in the oil and gas business and to be sitting here still in the business after what we've gone through 2014-2015 and early on in the 16 it's been the most unusual, it's been the biggest downturn that we've ever witnessed.

About every time we thought we'd see a little a light in the tunnel, price would fall lower, it was unbelievable and again I tell people if I had told you two years ago that I would still have my company I probably would have been lying to you because it was strictly a guess, but by the grace of God we find ways to continue to hang in there until the next upswing. Most businesses have never been through that, so I believe that keeps a lot of these wild ideas about the industry away from becoming reality or becoming some type of law, I really believe that.

Michael C.: Well I think it speaks volumes though because of your team, the folks you've surrounded yourself with and even your own ability to keep your eyes up and on target and on goals when it comes to business and as a politician.

So we've been talking about transitions and those types of things, so I think it's really neat to hear your perspective on the political arena from a national and a state and a local level I think you have a ton of experience in this Jay and just chatting with you today's has been really exciting. Kind of in closing I just got one more question, are you having fun?

Jay Dean: Oh if I wasn't having fun I wouldn't be doing it, I just turned 65 years old don't feel it, I hope I don't look that bad. But again I really enjoy representing our people and being a part of the community and trying to help in a positive way, we've got to continue to work hard on our quality of life issues to bring people.

Hey bring young people like yourself, might have moved away from Long View because they couldn't find a job or they didn't have any opportunities here, man I'd love to see my kids be able to move back they're all down in the Houston area because of work, but I see my grandkids more. But I enjoy it and the thing is trying to stay focused on the goal and the goal is to make this area one of the areas everybody wants to be and that’s where we continue to get our drive from.

Michael C.: Yes sir. Well Jay do you have any events coming up, I know you mentioned some things in the fall, do you have any dates set yet?

Jay Dean: No not yet, we need to get some of this campaign stuff out of the way, I'm attending lots of party meetings, lots of Association meetings, Rotary clubs, lions clubs things such as that, but we'll be working on some hard town hall meeting dates and I'm guessing we're going to wait till it gets a little cool and probably sometimes in the October area.

What you hear from a lot of people that stay pretty tuned into some of this political stuff who the next speaker is going to be, well there's a hundred and fifty members in the house and right now every time one of us looks in the mirror we see the next speaker, but that isn't realities. But you're going to see some things start to develop as far as who the actual candidates are going to be, probably in November, early December so by having those town hall meetings later in the fall that we can when that issue comes up we may have a little bit more substance to share than we could today, because like I said 150 of us look in the mirror and we're the next speaker.

Michael C.: Well I know we'll be excited whenever you get started with those and I'm sure our folks here locally are going to be excited to give you some ideas and some things that hopefully you can take down to Austin with you and continue to work on.

Jay Dean: Well that's what it's about, I mean we represent our district first and there's issues that come along that don't really have an impact here, but impacts the state as a whole those are pretty easy to vote for. But when there's issues that come along that have a negative impact even though it's not politically popular down in Austin, I'm going to always vote for my district first and that's what's important to me.

But through these town hall meetings and when session stars we love when people call in, we try to put things out that hey we've got this issue coming up what do you think about this, pick up the phone and call or email or text and that way we're able to kind of really get a good handle of where the majority of people in the district. But listen, hey this has been fun man I like doing this kind of stuff and hopefully we can get to do it again and look forward to seeing you down in Austin again.

Michael C.: Yes sir.

Jay Dean: And I'm hoping the message about young people really starting to get involved politically, I think you got a natural ability and hopefully one of these days you're going to start looking at what fits your picture, because again Mike it's about giving back and it's about the quality of life for the community and we got to have good folks to step up and take an active role in continuing to make this a great place to live.

Michael C.: Yes sir.

Jay Dean: So thank you all very much, enjoyed it.

Michael C.: Jay we've had a great time today and if you'd like to learn more about Jay or get in touch with him, you can check out his website or you can also go on Facebook Jay Dean for Texas, if you search for that you'll find his Facebook page.

So you can find some information about Jay there, I think you can message and email through that, through the website and through Facebook, so if you'd like to get in touch with him maybe ask some questions, he also welcomes calls to his office and you can get those numbers on the web sites as well. Jay once again thank you for being here today, we appreciate your time and this was a great show and maybe even next time we'll be coming to Austin to visit you.

Jay Dean: Oh that'll be even better man, that'd be great.

Michael C.: So I'd like to thank guest Jay Dean for being here today, as well as our wonderful producer Gabby Sims and you the listener, please like review and share our podcast. We're available on all of the major podcast platforms or you can simply go to our website your comments are how we improve our show and we enjoy hearing your feedback.

Please send your comments to, also check us out on social we are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and LinkedIn, thanks for joining us and we look forward to bringing you more conversation with great leaders, thank you.

In This Episode

  • Information on Jay’s background and when he came to Texas.

  • How the Freeze of 1983 was the turning point for Jay in his career.

  • The importance of building relationships in business and politics.

  • Transition from business to politician.

  • What Jay learned as being Mayor of Longview, Texas.

  • His greatest accomplishments while he was mayor.

  • Difference between election to Mayoral office and House of Representatives.

  • The technological evolution throughout politics.

  • The importance of philanthropy and giving back to the community.

  • What the Texas House of Representative job entails.

  • Jay’s thoughts on the national midterm results.

  • The property tax problem in Texas.


  • To do any good job in politics, you have to commit to the time, according to Jay.

  • Jay says that those who run for political office need to stay focused because a lot of things can distract even the most focused. He says that great leaders with fresh ideas should step forward for office.

  • At the time he was running for mayor, Jay went around door-knocking and meeting everyone face-to-face. He learned the importance of that through his business background.

  • Recently the Texas House of Representatives put a bill in motion that cut down on voter fraud because a lot of deceased people were having their names used to cast votes.

  • Jay says that he’s going to be hosting town hall meetings and that they will continue talking and fixing the property tax problems, cybersecurity issues, as well as staying proactive about discussions on 2nd amendment rights.

  • There are 95 republicans per every 55 democrats in the House right now. 

  • The property tax problem in Texas can’t be fixed until representatives fix the public school finance problem.

  • We have enough oil in the United States. Jay says we should do more to promote it within the office.


Jay’s website:

His Facebook site:


  • “Starting in business or in politics is all about building relationships.”

  • “I couldn’t have gotten into politics if it had not been for the great staff I had at my business.”

  • “It’s your capital. It’s your house chamber. Our office is your office. We like having people coming down to really get a feel for how the whole process works.”