Jefferson Fisher on Running For Beaumont’s City Council And Leading The Change

TBC 6 | City Council

 

Jefferson Fisher is a Beaumont, Texas lawyer who has thrown his hat into politics and is running for City Council. He is a bright and interesting young man with a vision for his local community. Jefferson extends that to us as he shares his personal and family life, as well as what life has been like being on a campaign. Tired of the way things are at the city council, Jefferson steps in and proposes for change, taking us deeper into his motivations to run. He lays down his plans for Beaumont and talks about the most significant issues and problems that the community is facing and how he would address that.

Listen to the podcast here:

Jefferson Fisher on Running For Beaumont’s City Council And Leading The Change

Jefferson Fisher is with us. He is a rising star in many ways in Southeast Texas. He’s a guy that I know all of his family and has for years, but I hadn’t known him for very long. I’ve been begging him and bugging him to come and talk to me. I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad that you did. I’m happy to be on the show. I have heard a lot of good things about it. I think you know a lot about my family, but you and I have known each other maybe less than a year.

How long have you officed next door?

At Orgain Bell & Tucker, I’ve been there total of close to six years.

I’ll be honest, there are people just a floor above me or a floor below me that I haven’t spoken to in six months and it’s nothing bad. We’re still great but it’s easy to park and go into your office, do your work and life. I didn’t realize you had been practicing as a lawyer that long.

It’s been awhile. I’ve had close to fourteen trials, which is pretty good for my side of the docket.

For everyone out there, he’s on the dark side. He’s out there taking away food, clothing, shelter from widows and orphans.

The firm is actually pretty good at allowing me to do both sides. The majority of my cases are defense cases where it’s civil litigation. I don’t do family law. I don’t do criminal law. I’m defending businesses or trucking companies or contractors on different stuff. I do some real estate, but I also do some plaintiff’s work for people who have been injured.

Your dad is in the same firm. Do you ever work together?

We do a lot. It’s awesome. It’s one of the big pulls of why I wanted to be in that firm. My dad is an excellent attorney in the legal world and I can learn law from him and I do every day. It’s been great that there’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t talk to him about a case or I have a question or just touch base on something, so that means a lot.

I was thinking if I would have worked with my dad for an extended period of time, we would have killed each other.

He’s up in Silsbee. His office is up at Silsbee. We don’t see each other every day. We probably see each other maybe three times a month as far as in the office. It’s great because say I want to understand the legal topic and I’m researching and trying to figure it out, I’ll do it all on my own. If I still am unsure, I can call dad and he’ll just be like, “It’s this.” It’s nice to be able to communicate with someone who speaks your language.

We’ll say this about him when we’re talking about Jefferson’s dad briefly, David Fisher. I’ve known David for quite a while, professionally mostly. We don’t go fishing together. It’s nothing like that, but I’ve dealt with him professionally on and off for years. We don’t always agree. In fact, oftentimes when we do not agree. We have so much different personalities from one another. He’s a much more respectable, even-keeled overall. I may have a little more colorful vocabulary and what not, but all those differences, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Even though I don’t agree with him, I can get along with him because I respect him because he’s a good guy. Deep down, he’s a good guy. He’s a great lawyer, but he’s a good guy.

He’s a wonderful role model for me and my family. I’m the oldest of four. I grew up here in Beaumont until I was about ten or eleven, and then over on Brandywine Street, down west. We moved to Silsbee because dad wanted land. He grew up on a farm. I went from a small little yard to running a bush hog.

He still lives out there?

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He still lives up there in Silsbee. He opened up a little office, a satellite OBT office and he’s up there. My mom’s a teacher at Silsbee Middle School and my sister’s a teacher at Silsbee Middle School. My younger brother’s in Austin doing cybersecurity. It’s insane. My youngest brother is a sophomore at UT and makes me jealous of every picture I see.

I was looking at your cousin, Clark. He sent me a picture of Jackson.

Jackson is 20 or 21. He’s in school in Colorado and he has this crazy hairdo and his funky suit on, with a pretty young girl sitting next to him. For a brief second I had the same envy, but then I realized that boy still got 25 years of mistakes.

I’d rather just stay where I’m at.

If I went back to college, I think I’ll learn a lot more because I’d probably pay attention more to my classes. You don’t know how things are going to apply. I had calculus and statistics that I certainly will never use and haven’t used, but yet it ate up a whole semester of my life. I grew up in Beaumont and they moved to Silsbee and went to Silsbee Junior High. I went to Silsbee High School. My wife is from Buna. It was my senior year, her junior year.

How long have you been married?

It has almost been eight years.

You have one little boy.

We have a sixteen-month-old son, Jett. He learned to walk and he’s already almost running. It’s insane.

He’s live now, so lock everything down.

He’s a live wire. He teaches you exactly how much of your house is not locked down or accessible and things you can reach on tables and now he’s touching doorknobs. That’s what we got going on at the Fisher House.

We’re talking about your wife, but for those that don’t know you, we didn’t introduce her. It’s Sierra. Unfortunately, we probably should have done this with her. She’s probably smarter, more interesting than both of us put together.

She is very sharp, she’ll catch it. She’s much better in all ways. My wife is Sierra Fisher. She is an attorney as well. We went to the University of Texas and then we graduated, worked at the 82nd legislature from January to May. She was in the house, I was in the Senate. We got married in June.

What office were you working in?

She was the representative of Mark Shelton, who is around the Fort Worth area, and I was an assistant sergeant in the Senate. I prefer to watch the whole process rather than be in a certain senator’s office.

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Sergeant at Arms may be the best job in the Senate.

It was intense. It was fantastic. I got to be in almost every committee meeting. I got to know the chief of staffs for a lot of the senators. I got to know them. You’re on the Senate floor and you’d be there until 1:00 AM. You got a front row seat to what was happening in the Texas legislature and how the sausage was made. We went to law school. We did three years of law school up at Texas Tech and then came home and we could have gone anywhere, but we wanted to come back to this area.

You both went to Tech?

Yes.

I went to Tech.

We probably had some of the same professors. A lot of them are still there.

I had Brian Shannon for contracts.

Sierra had Shannon. We got out and survived. She does school law, so she represents school districts with their special education, their school boards, helping them. It was passed down through the legislature and teaching and training superintendents and teachers. That’s her life. She loves it. She was hired by a doctor, Jimmy Simmons from the board of managers took over BISD. She lived through all of that and she was right there with them every step of the way and still is. I did civil litigation, decided to go to OBT, but there’s a lot to go off.

Is she in the same law firm with you or she owned her own?

She’s on her own. She’s at a firm called Karczewski Bradshaw. She is quasi with them and now general counsel for BISD.

Is she an outside general counsel for BIS? How’s that work?

She is much better at explaining the arrangement. If she would tell someone it would be, “I’m general counsel for BISD.”

Let’s just leave it at that.

She has an office there. She’s there almost every day. She’s had that job.

I did not realize all this.

You can disagree and not be divisive and still get positive results. Click To Tweet

It was pretty recent. The move was recent for her. She’s happy and she’s very invested in fixing BISD. We have a new superintendent, Dr. Shannon Allen. There’s some shake up happening I think for the better. Some people really care about it.

This is all good to know. I was leaning on some people over at my daughter’s school, so had I known I knew the general counsel.

She’s a straight shooter. She knows the education code like the back of her hand and she’s interested in education policy. That’s what she did at the legislature when we were in college. She knows a lot of the pub ed policy and that’s what she’s all about. I think if she was in another life, she would be a lobbyist firm for education policy.

Lobbying can be fun. I’ve done it for several sessions, then backed away from it the last two just because it sucks out part of your soul in my opinion.

It can be draining, for sure, but she’s excited about it. It’s been great. Right now it’s work, campaign, trying to get home by 6:30 for bath time. If she gets there earlier, she handles dinner, I handle bath and then we both try to put him down. She’s working her job, I’m working mine. Once we get him down, we’re at it again.

Look each other, have a conversation?

It’s not until 8:00 or 8:30 that we say, “How’s your day?” That’s normal. That’s just the stage that we’re in right now.

Wait if you have some more. I have three of my own and they’re much older than Jett, but sometimes it feels like we’re a taxi service.

I believe it, with all of the practices where they have to go to the lesson and from here to there.

It will happen.

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Thankfully I’m not there yet, but parenthood is a crazy thing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I tell my eldest, she’s about three and a half months from getting her license. I say, “You’re going to be driving me around. I got you a summer job. You’re going to be the chauffer service.” She didn’t like that.

When I got my license, as the eldest of four, I immediately became a school mom. I dropped off everyone, I picked them up and was going over my youngest brother’s spelling words on the way to drop him off, but it was a time that we got close.

Are you still close with all three?

I’m very close with all of them. I love being a big brother. It was instilled in me at a young age that they are as much yours as they are ours. It was a good relationship. It always has been. They would say a lot of the times they would obey me better than my parents just because if a parent tells you something, it’s like, “These parents don’t know what they’re talking about,” but if your brother says, “Come on, cut that out.” “Fine. I have been over the line.”

I think with the sibling too, you’re more likely to fight them, more likely to beat them up.

We never had any animosity or any fights at all. We’re still close. Whenever we get together, it’s a whole lot of fun, but the youngest is now taller than me. He’s taller than everyone, which is crazy. It’s been good. I was eleven when he was born. We’re still very close. It’s a great relationship with all of them. It’s been great and they’re all over the place. Thankfully with social media and cell phones, we’re able to keep up with everyone, unlike in the past. It’s been great. Right now it’s all campaign all the time. Early voting starts.

What are you campaigning? What’s going on?

I’m campaigning. We had a political forum, just my opponent and me for Ward 2. I’m running for city council for Ward 2. That’s the southern southwest portion of Beaumont that goes from the top of Folsom, like Barrington Heights area, all the way down to Brentwood.

It excludes my house by a block.

Yes, because if you go east of Dowlen but north of Gladys, that’s Ward 1. That’s huge. You’re right there on the clutter of Thomas. You’re right their way. It’s been campaigning, a lot of block walking, I’ve had an event almost every evening, social media, videos, reaching out to as many people as possible. I’m the new guy. I’m the challenger. My opponent hasn’t had a challenger since he got in the office. That comes with the territory, a lot of scrutinies, a lot of people saying, “Certainly, he’s not running. Who’s behind him? Who’s putting him up for this?” It’s just me. If anything, it’s me and Sierra. I wouldn’t get into this if she wasn’t totally on board, and she is. We feel at peace about it and we’ve been staying positive, putting the blinders on and focusing on our issues.

What’s driving you to do that? Why do you want to be on the city council?

I’m tired of the way things are. That sounds like a plain response, but that’s the heart of it. I see so often that the city could run so much more efficiently, but it gets bogged down in controversy when I don’t think there should be a controversy. You can disagree. Disagreement’s a great thing, but you can disagree without being disrespectful. Divisiveness isn’t good for anyone at all. I think you can disagree and not be divisive and still get positive results. For example, take what we do as attorneys. We’re on opposite sides of ideas all the time. We advocate for our clients. You and I might disagree about a contract.

We might disagree about how a rule applies or our case applies, but at the end of the day, we’ll go out and hang out and it’s not a thing. It’s sad to say that there are those on the council that don’t feel that way. It becomes a personal attack. I don’t feel like that’s the way it should be. I’m yearning for a change. I think the city needs a breath of fresh air. I think we need to understand that sometimes it’s not what you do. It’s how you do it. A lot of people can be accessible, but not everyone can lead. That’s what Beaumont needs right now in my opinion. We need to change. We need some new, fresh blood in the system, because right now anyone on city council is older, 60 and above. There’s no one on city council younger than 60.

Are you in your 30s?

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There is a 30-year gap and so if the majority of Beaumont says, “We need our young people to stay, we need to find better ways to attract them, get them here, keep them here.” Get them excited about being here to create that atmosphere. They don’t have to guess. That’s what Sierra lives, our family live every day. It’s hard. I’m tired of having to defend Beaumont to friends that leave, with friends that are like, “Why are you in Beaumont? Come on over to River Oaks, come over to The Heights, come over to Austin.” Those are all awesome places and there are tons of stuff to do. It’s not even the same, but we like Beaumont. We like the pace here. I hate the traffic. I can’t stand Houston traffic. I like being in Beaumont, and the family’s here, so we’re pretty anchored down. It’s been great. I feel good about it. I know I’m in it for the right reasons.

We mentioned your dad’s a lawyer, your wife’s a lawyer, you’re a lawyer. For everybody out there, I think Jefferson’s extended family members are lawyers too. Do you ever try to count how many lawyers you have in the clan?

I think I counted. Alive right now, we have seven maybe. If you look at the total span of us for the past three or four generations, I want to say it’s twelve. I don’t know if it’s osmosis. It’s part of our makeup. I grew up hearing talk about depositions and hearings and trials and courtroom stories. That’s what I grew up hearing. Don’t give us an equation or ask us to be a doctor. We can skin a deer, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Let’s be honest, when your dad or grandfather is a 40-year federal judge, it makes it a little easier choice to go into law school.

It certainly does.

Judge Fisher was your great grandfather.

He passed away when I was fourteen, so I had lots of good memories. I bought his house when it came up for sale. The Kindles had it and I went over there and called.

Kathleen used to live there.

We bought that a few years ago. It’s been great. I have a lot of memories. I have a scar under my chin from a concrete fountain that they had. Mom told me not to climb on it, but I did.

He used to shoot squirrels on the fence. This house is right in the middle of town.

It was back in a time without social media, so we didn’t probably drive the near as fast. It’s been good and I think the legal profession is an honorable one. I love it. I felt more comfortable in law school than I ever did in college with some things and concepts that you just get. I had friends in high school and early college that they would take economics and just get it like nothing, or accounting because their parents are accountants and they just get it like no problem. I have to study like crazy because it didn’t come naturally to me. Law was that way. It’s much easier that if you have a federal judge as family. They helped that. We all like it. We’re all storytellers. We all like to advocate, we all like to argue. It comes with the territory, but I’m proud of my family.

You should be. You’re running for city council. Is this the first political campaign you’ve ever been in?

The very first one. I figured if I want to try out public service and to try to better Beaumont, one of the most hands-on ways to do that is the city council. There is not another public service position in my opinion that is closest to your constituents, to the people. You don’t have to call and get a secretary’s office and schedule a time with staff. You call on me, it’s me who picks up. You say, “Jason, they go out to your house, check this out. You’ve got this problem.” Let me help.

From your perspective, and I don’t know how much you’ve thought about this, but what are the biggest issues or problems or things that this community is facing that you’d like to address?

As Beaumont as a whole?

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Obviously Ward 2 because that’s the specific district you represent, but you’re one within a body of folks that have to work to get things done.

When you’re on the city council, even though you’re elected as Ward 2, you represent all of Beaumont and you’re a face of all of Beaumont to those who are looking for a place to stay and for reasons to stay. Some of the key issues that I see in Beaumont is one, the lack of growth. We stayed at about 118,000, 119,000.

The population, the census had been about the same since the ‘60s.

For way too long, we haven’t grown. I would say that’s one key issue. Number two, the collateral of that is lack of young people. We have a lot of younger folks from ages 26 to 38 that are leaving, and that affects all over Beaumont’s, especially staffing. You talk to the police. We can’t fill the spots. We have fire, the same thing. You look at law firms, you look at doctors, local businesses, they all have problems. Staffing is a nationwide issue but not in the cities. It’s time that we start getting a little bit more competitive of retaining and trying to attract talent because gone are the days that good people just came. This is not that way anymore. If we want the younger generation to buy into the idea of Belmont, then I think we need to start selling them the idea of Belmont and actually get some hustle.

On that point too, I think at least from my perspective, I’ve found that we’re much more mobile as a society than we ever have been. If I’m twenty years old and I don’t like the scene in Beaumont, I’m gone. It’s easy to move to Austin, to San Francisco, Chicago. Especially if there’s a belief that there’s not much of the community for those people. I’ve got a sixteen-year-old daughter that tells me she can’t wait to leave town. She’s never coming back. That could just be my sixteen-year-old daughter.

I think every teenager says that. I’m sure we said that at some point too. It’s a multi-faceted issue. I think there’s a lot more Beaumont could do to attract the younger generation. Sierra and I have these conversations all the time. We have conversations with our friends and we know some of the key issues that Beaumont is having, just the lack of things to do. I think there’s a disconnect because if you look, there’s about a 30-year gap between us and those that are sitting on the city council, and it’s easy to get comfortable with the norm and not understand it because you’re not living it. If you look at when they were 30, it’s the 1980s. There were no cell phones. There weren’t a lot of the things that we have now.

You look at how much cell phones have changed in the last five years. It’s unreal. I think we’ll do a whole lot better job of getting them here and keeping them here. I think we could rely more on our local anchor institutions, local businesses here to have, for example, like an Angel network for local businesses. Lamar has an incubator for new local businesses, but it doesn’t translate to the city. I want to see a city level recruitment program for graduating seniors because the City of Beaumont has about 1,300 employees. We’re one of the biggest employers. I don’t see any issue with actually trying to get some of these younger kids instead of them being on the streets, actually being part of a mentorship program to follow if they want to work with the city.

There are lots of different jobs that are good, honest, hardworking jobs that will help get them there, to at least turn into workforce-ready students. I could think we could do a much better job of trying to attract investors to downtown. I want to see a downtown look more towards tech-based companies because tech-based companies have a really hard time finding real estate, especially for startups, because it’s so expensive in Austin and Houston and downtowns. A place like Beaumont is really cheap. If you see in Austin, for example, they will take these old buildings like yours and they transform them with new age equipment and technology. It’s cool. We could do better with having coffee shops, local bars and music scenes down here. I think you just need a push sometimes.

If the council is so busy arguing amongst themselves because of personal issues, then you’re not focusing on the needs of the city. In particular with Ward 2, if I were to burn every bridge that I have with members on the council, I’m good at stopping things and making hay about issues that I don’t agree with. I’m not good at getting things done because it takes four votes to get anything passed. If I can’t get those four votes, then I’m no use on the city council. You have to have some part of you that can negotiate with everyone. Those are some of the broader issues that I see.

Honestly, I don’t follow this. I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the newspaper anymore, so you bear with me. I know there has been some talk about the riverfront development area. I can’t even form a question because I just generally know that there’s been some talk about that.

Everybody would love to have a riverfront. We don’t have the available property.

The river’s right there.

The river’s right there but we have south as the port of Beaumont, then you go north of that and you have City Hall and the Civic Center. You have the infamous AT&T Center and you have Edison Plaza. On the other side of the bridge, you have a yacht club. That’s it.

There’s not a whole lot of space. There’s a lay down yard on the little island on the other side. I can’t remember whose that is.

I can’t remember either. That’s not an area. I don’t see being developed anytime soon. The city, there was a push with the AT&T building to take that building, demolish it, and actually try and provide a space for some riverfront element in that later guide. That didn’t happen. If I were to go back in time, I wouldn’t have recommended that City Hall be placed right on the water. You can put City Hall and lots of other locations instead of just right there on the water. I’d rather see that for some restaurants or mixed-use commercial shopping. The Civic Center is great. I just wished that some of that stuff had been pulled off the river because we just don’t utilize it and it’s a bummer.

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The courthouse is not far off either.

No. The old courthouse is right there at the entrance to the port.

There isn’t a river spot space much to speak of.

It’s how the members of whoever in the past decided how they wanted it. I don’t think it was planned very well in terms of community planning. I would have much rather seen that. I think we’re one of the very few towns that have access to the riverfront and does not develop it at all.

The seat that you’re running for, is it a four-year term?

Two.

Every two years, they re-do this?

The way the charter is for the city. Every two years, everybody is up again. That’s it. You have every two years.

Do you see this as a potential place for starting and use it to advance to other positions?

First, I have to get it but let’s just assume I win. It is my belief that it will be a good chance to get my feet wet into public service to see if it’s something that in my heart I feel is a place I’m best used and the best place I can serve. If that leads to anything in the future, I’m not going to certainly rule that out, but I’m also not going to claim it because to me, the city council will be the job that comes first and foremost. We’ll see. I think I have a lot to offer Beaumont and the community and it’s been a great thing. It’s been a good challenge. I’ve really enjoyed a room full of strangers, probably just like you. I have no problem with it. I enjoy it.

On that note though, what kind of response do you see in the city? I’ve found it strange, if I’m driving through town, particularly a lot of businesses. I’ve seen Jefferson Fisher, your big sign, someone in their yard, their business supporting you. Then there have been some places where I’ve seen you and your opponent, both signs in the same place, more than I think ever seen before. I know there’s got to be a story.

Are you talking about in people’s homes or businesses?

Mainly the businesses have noticed. I’ve noticed it at Burger King, I’ve noticed it in a Mexican restaurant and probably several other places. What’s going on here?

Some of the businesses want to be objective because they don’t want to lean on the other side. They have a prime real estate and they say, “You can both put out signs,” because they don’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak. Just like any other commercial property, if you look at some of the larger folks, they just say, “Anybody can put their sign up. You have to ask for permission.” It’s the same way with some of these businesses. The people who have both of our signs in their yard.

Is the house divided husband or the wife?

I’ve had that before where a wife says, “My husband is about your opponent, but I’m totally for you and my kids are for you. We want your sign.” I get it that I spoke to them and put out a sign, and then what’s happened is my opponent will go after wherever I’ve been and talk to whoever’s put up my sign. I probably had maybe fourteen calls about it, that he comes and asks them why they’re supporting me and if there’s anything he’s done wrong. They have told me that they felt uncomfortable and just allowed him to put a sign. They’re still supporting me.

He hasn’t come to my house to have that conversation.

I don’t think he’s going to do that with the people who have big signs. I remind the people that signs don’t vote. You’ll see signs in vacant houses, you’ll see signs in vacant lots. Signs don’t vote. The people do. I can’t tell you how many times I talked to folks and they say, “You totally have our support. We just don’t do signs.” No problem. That means I can save a sign and still get your vote.

That was my next question. I was thinking because I pulled the numbers in the many different elections, but I’ve never pulled a number on the city council, the numbers in the past. What kind of turnout typically do we expect? It’s got to be pretty low.

It is pretty low.

A handful of votes can decide any race.

It can be very close, especially for city council. This one won’t be different because we have so many people running. Let’s go back. 2017, they’re called off-year elections for city council, and you had no shakeup. Virginia Jordan was running against Claude Guidroz and that was really about it. Not many people turn out. It doesn’t get many people to the polls and everybody goes on to the next year. If you’re an incumbent, you love it. This year is totally different because we have at least four people running for BISD. You have at least four people running for the port. That was all turnout people, every one of them. You have seven people running at large, which is insane. Then almost every council races contested except Ward 4. That’s going to drive people out, period. It’s going to get a lot more people out. Typically, I’ve seen it where there are only about 4,000 people vote. I think that will double, in my opinion. I think we’ll have anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 people voting. It’s still incredibly low. Even for national politics, voter turnout is still incredibly low.

We’re talking about 10% turnout. I would think it’s probably made more difficult by the fact that it’s not in conjunction with the national election schedule or even statewide. It’s just the city election.

For example, in the candidate’s position, we put stuff on Facebook, we’d buy ads, we put out signs. There’s a lot that we try and do to proactively get the word out. For me as a challenger, I have to let people know somebody else is in the race. Signs are really a form of awareness. It’s not showing the vote. If you have it from that perspective of trying to get the word out, it is interesting to see. You’ll knock on the door and they’ll still have no idea. They don’t know who their councilman is. They don’t know who’s running. They don’t know there’s an election coming up. They’re just totally uninformed and that’s just some people. They don’t want to be informed. To each their own. Some of them are working crazy jobs and shift work and they don’t have the chance. It’s just not a priority to them.

That’s fair enough. I used to beat myself up trying to encourage folks to be active. You’ve got to find it for yourself. It’s something you’ve got to find for yourself. Is this a paid position, this city council?

No. I think there’s a very small stipend. I think about a few hundred dollars but no, it’s not at all. It’s not full-time.

Are you going to have the time? That’s another thing. You’re still a relatively young lawyer. You’re going to have time to commit to do this job well.

Sure. One, people make time for what they want to make time for, period. Everyone makes the time for what they want to make time for, no matter how busy you are. I will certainly have the time to do it. The firm has been very gracious and is very favorable to me running. They fully support me and believe I’m running for the right reasons and would be an asset to the community. They would want to have that with their firm, so it’s mutually beneficial. They’re proud of me. It’s been nice to have that support. Time-wise, that’s not an issue because if I’m running a campaign and work, I can definitely still be a councilman and work, as campaigns crazy right now. It will certainly be doable. I know for Tuesdays, for example, for city meetings, Tuesdays at 1:30. I know not to schedule anything for Tuesday’s afternoon.

I’ll say this too from my experience, the city un-elected position, so the city manager and the staff, it’s got a fairly decent staff down there. They probably make it a little easier for folks on the council, I would think.

If you look at just the basics of counsel, there are seven members on the council. You have the mayor, you have a council member for each Ward. That’s four Wards, then you have two at large. Two at large, four Wards, that’s six, plus the mayor, that’s seven.

Mayor votes in case of a tie. I can’t remember. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter.

I think you don’t have to. Carl Hayes is city manager who worked for the council. The council works for the citizens and they have a lot of staff members. Most of the time you’ll see that the council or the city managers say, “Council, here is what we’ve done. Here’s what we’re proposing. We recommend you approve it.” It’s given in a big packet that’s given to city council before every meeting. They have almost a whole week to review it, take a look at it, ask questions, see what they like, they don’t like, then they have a chance to discuss it. It’s not like as if they’re having to dig in the minutiae and pull this out of whole cloth. If they want to bring forward a proposal or a new idea then yeah, but for the most part it runs like clockwork.

I’ve personally experienced otherwise, but I like all that. You know the one big city of Beaumont issue for me, and this is my crazy talk. You won’t even remember this, but I’ve fairly mentioned or after I found out you were running for city council. I said these boxes that they’re painting all over town that are the utility boxes for the stoplights. The city has given a contract to the artist and they go out there and they paint them and whatever. I get it, but there’s a box corner in front of my house. I really don’t want that thing painted. It’s a big joke at the house because for whatever reason, I got nervous about it, like they’re going to paint something crazy on my box. I’m going to have to see it every single day.

I got obsessed with it. I got crazy about it. I called my friend that owns a title company, started asking about the deed restrictions. There’s an easement for the city to come on there and access it, but the easement is only for utility. The easement doesn’t apply to beautification and arts, entertainment and all this bullshit. Ultimately, I just didn’t want something painted in my front yard. I get it on random corners. I just happen to live on a busy corner, so there’s a light there. I’ve since subsided though. I’m not going to be too crazy about that issue. Unfortunately, my mania over the issue actually escaped from the house. I’ve gotten the city manager here for quite a few times about it, but it might’ve worked because they haven’t tried to paint it.

I doubt that they ever will. It’s as simple as, “I don’t want this box painted.” It was from my understanding a local artist. Anybody could say, “I like to paint a box,” and they say, “Here’s the box that you can paint.” You can request a certain box and how you can paint it. You have to propose your artwork, do all that stuff. That was pushed by Virginia Jordan for Ward 1. I would imagine if you don’t want your box painted, then it won’t be painted.

That’s not exactly what I was told at first. The switch additionally added to my mania.

These blocks have been painted for almost two years.

I ended up pulling up the contracts they were signing up with people. I took it way too far, in my head at least. I started getting really agitated and see the other boxes and noticed how the artists weren’t always following the regulations. What if they don’t do it here?

It sounds to me like you’ve got a little obsessive about the box.

I don’t know what happened. Finally, I think when I mentioned it to the people in charge, they went away.

I’m pretty sure that’s all you’d have to do is to say, “I do not want this box painted. It’s on my property.”

I think you’re a great young man and I think it was a pleasure to meet you. I’ve enjoyed meeting your wife as well. She’s super sweet. She’s super bright. That’s obvious. She’s a beautiful lady and I’m sure a good mom. I haven’t even seen the baby, but I’ve seen her. I’m sure she’s just as talented in all aspects. You’re a young couple that’s impressive and a breath of fresh air for everybody around you. Like meeting your dad, I may not always agree with you, but I sure respect you and I respect what you’re doing.

Jefferson might not say it, but he’s running against a longstanding city council member who’s been down there for a long time. When I say a long time, maybe eight or ten years, and it can be controversial. Frankly, it can be loud and can be a bully. Just the mere fact that you’re running and have kept your beliefs from my perspective, kept your composure, kept your positive spirit and been a mixture of about issues in tone is what I call it. For me, it’s a breath of fresh air. I think it will be for others. Whether you win or lose, don’t change that.

For sure. Come win or lose, it’s been a great experience and I know I’ll still be able to do a lot of good. I’m hopeful that the voters are going to turn out and I really do. I think I’ll be the next councilman and I hope that could pass the message of civility and being positive to all of Beaumont to remove some of the brash reputations that that council has got. I’m just keeping my head down, staying on my message.

For those who may live in Beaumont, particularly in Ward 2, they want to find out a little more about you, where can they find out?

They can go to my website, JeffersonForBeaumont.com. They can also go to my Facebook. You’ll see a video. I have lots of videos on each one of my platforms. I did a live video on my take and thoughts on reducing crime. I had a live TV forum with my opponent. That would be good for you all to check out if you’d like. I have lots of materials out there. Social media has been really good.

If someone wanted to find out more about you as the lawyer or they needed a good lawyer here in this area, how would they find you?

Orgain Bell & Tucker is the firm’s website, just OBT.com.

I think it’s the oldest law firm in the area?

It is.

I think it’s 1901 or 1908, 1910, something like that.

It started when the whole spindle top was going on and they don’t pull out with at first, but that was when the landscape looked a whole lot different than it is now. It’s a great firm. I enjoy working there and it’s been good.

When do people vote? How do they vote?

I encourage you, if you’re curious of where to vote or the closest area to you that you can vote, go to the City of Beaumont website and you’ll see the city clerk’s office link and that will give you all the locations. I’ll also be posting a lot of where to go and so will other candidates.

Thanks for coming on. You’re the first politician I’ve had. We have several scheduled, former gubernatorial candidates and stayed officeholders and other folks. I’m excited for you to be the first. I appreciate it. Next time, come back and we’ll call you councilman.

That sounds good. I look forward to it.

Thanks again.

Important Links:

About Jefferson Fisher

TBC 6 | City Council

The oldest of four children, Jefferson grew up on Brandywine Street in Beaumont, Texas, until his family moved to Silsbee. He graduated from Silsbee High School and went on to receive his undergraduate degree from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas.

He married his high school sweetheart and Buna native, Sierra. After graduating college, the pair worked in the State Capital for the 82nd Legislative Session – Jefferson in the Senate and Sierra in the House of Representatives. They then continued on to both graduate from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Jefferson now practices at Orgain Bell & Tucker LLP, where he handles a diverse variety of civil litigation. Sierra represents local school districts and specializes in education law, school board governance, and special education. They are the proud parents of one-year-old Jett.

As the first great-grandchild of the late Judge Joe Jefferson Fisher, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Jefferson is proud to carry on his family’s heritage of service.

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