If politics is a negotiation, then everyone has a say. Economic Resiliency Planner of South East Texas Regional Planning Commission, Jes Prince, walks us through her involvement in local elections and advocacies. Discover the critical issue she is focused on and the reason why she encourages everyone to exercise their right to vote. A licensed realtor and community enthusiast, she shares the non-profit organization she’s involved in and the task force that deals with human trafficking.
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The Value Of Political Awareness with Jes Prince
We’ve got the true one of a kind, Jes Prince. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me.
Although not world-famous, she is truly one of a kind and for some reasons, one of my favorite people. I’m glad you could come and talk to me. You’re one of the hippest people I know because you’re diverse in your personal life, work background and experiences. It seems like you’re good at doing just about whatever you want to do. I’ve seen you’d be a commercial real estate broker, in which you may do from time to time still, but now you took a new position.
I did. It’s a temporary gig for the Regional Planning Commission. I’m the Economic Resiliency Planner for our three-county region for the next several months.
Why only several months?
The position is specific to Hurricane Harvey disaster funding and that was allocated to be obligated by a certain time frame, plus I like to switch it up. I don’t like to commit to anything permanently.
It’s perfect for you and I say that too because you are very well-educated and articulate. You’ve been hanging out with some politicians. I notice you’ve gotten involved in one way or another in some local politics. What’s that all about?
For a long time, I’ve always definitely used my right to vote. I’ve always taken that seriously but because of where I live, I cannot vote in city elections with the exception of the school district or the poor commission. With the county parties, I was never involved in any of that. When our current president was elected, I decided that it was absolutely necessary to be more active where I wouldn’t be able to complain about it.
What exactly are you doing with these local elections?
The current elections, I’m not involved in due to the Planning Commission, due to a judgment. With the county, I was helping with the campaign and that came about because I feel like it was important to be an advocate and to be involved. All politics start at a local level. If you’re not willing to be a heavy hitter there, then who’s going to do it?
I get being involved but what issues are key to you? What’s important to you?
The most important to me is challenging the voter apathy that is persistent in our county.
No, I think nationwide.
Obviously, nationwide but I can have an impact on a county level that I’m not sure I could on a national level.
How do you think we impact that problem?Voter apathy is very persistent in our county; challenge it. Click To Tweet
You need to be visible, proactive, enthusiastic and encouraging to the whole younger generation that has never paid attention to that.
Unfortunately, some studies and some field work have shown that does start with a personal connection and here’s the hard part. It means you’ve got to get out there and do it. No one candidate for any one office can do that. It takes a team of people making personal connections.
It takes a team of people and it doesn’t need to be candidate-specific. It needs to be an attitude of appreciation and respect for who fought, who died and who stood up for voting to begin with. The fact that we live in a country where democracy is supposedly at play, you need to participate in that.
It sounds to me, ultimately you don’t care who people vote for. You want them to participate.
I do support candidates for their platform but there’s a level of divisiveness and there’s a lack of civility that is sometimes party-driven. Getting people to vote is not such a controversial conversation. Go do it and get involved at whatever level you deem appropriate for your own self.
In the last couple of years, you’ve gotten more involved in generally the political process. I’ve done the opposite and backed away. At some level, people will take as much as you give. I don’t mean financially, I mean everything. I got tied up in that for several years and in a lot of ways it’s sucking the soul out of you. I’ll caution you there. Only give what you’re willing.
I learned, I observed, I internalized and I took a lot of notes. That’s only one of my jobs.
What else are you into?
As a volunteer, I’m involved in several non-profit efforts and they all run together but they’re not political and they’re not Regional Planning-related.
You got appointed or involved in some type of task force. What’s that about?
Several years back, the Family Services of Southeast Texas formed a task force with law enforcement, CPS and the judicial system to reevaluate how we prosecute domestic violence cases. I was involved then for a few years and I took a break. Now, I’m back because we have this persistent problem with human trafficking in Beaumont. This new program is going to focus on runaways and advocating for them, trying to find a way to get them off the streets, out of trafficking and out of that cycle.
It’s an honor that you talk about that. It’s awesome work. On our last episode, I was talking to Wendy Davis who is a politician, a former gubernatorial candidate. She is a former senator. I’ve known her for a long time. She got a non-profit, Deeds Not Words, that’s basically development for young women to get involve and generally a process of affecting issues. That’s something they had been working on.
She was the keynote speaker at the Texas Association Against Sexual Conference years ago. I met her there. She had released her book and she’s a big advocate for them.
The human trafficking you said is a mission. It hits you everywhere.
It’s the fastest growing crime in the nation.
It happens right in front of our faces all the time and selfishly, it’s probably a more terrifying issue because I have a fifteen-year-old daughter. It’s not exclusively girls but primarily.
I would say probably twelve to eighteen is the age demographic where you see the largest.
In fact, three people in our area were indicted trying to sex traffic a twelve-year-old.
They caught him but that was not the first incident. It’s a dirty world.
Hopefully, we keep having good people like you working on these issues.
You have to give a lot of credit to our law enforcement agencies. They’re the ones that are up all night. Clock in, watching and doing the grunt work of this. My role in that, I’m not in law enforcement but you need advocates. You need people that know the signs and are there.
Certainly, they have an important role to play but they can’t do it all.
That’s the part of the task force to bring everyone in and get that done when you have to collaborate.
In grassroots, community involvement is going to be able to as much if not more than law enforcement many times. The eyes and ears and nothing else. We saw that in a murder investigation in this area.
The community was mad enough and they did the whole, “If you see something, say something.” They actually showed up and they did and we need that more often.
Part of it though is we get blinders and it’s easy for us to do because it seems like technological advances have brought many great things in our lives, but we are also to a point at which we operate at this basis and many times just to financially survive for a lot of people. Our bandwidth for information is only so big.
You get desensitized to a lot of things because with the visibility and right now, if you can’t deliver in 30 seconds, then your audience is gone.
Are there any other non-profits you’re working with?
There’s a new non-profit that was formed. Our acronym is DBCAD, which stands for Downtown Beaumont Cultural Arts District. I am on that board. This is to earn a designation for our downtown district from the Texas Commission on the Arts. It will bring more funding down to our area. I’ve been working on that for a while. Our application is coming up for June 15th and I’m the Marketing Chairman for that.
Hopefully, this isn’t going to lead to more painting of the boxes.
This will not lead to more painting of the boxes.
We were talking about this in our hometown in the last couple of years. I guess it’s a city deal. Artists have applied and they’ve been the traffic service boxes but each traffic light. I can only be the local minority against it because although I live in the neighborhood, I’m in a busy street and at the edge of my yard is one of my boxes. I don’t want someone painting something in my yard that I have no control over.
I get that. I think the city is approving the artwork.
They also have guidelines that half of which have been violated.
No, that’s not what this committee is doing at all.
I got unreasonably unsettled by this and the lawyer in me, it started bothering me. Then I started to research a little bit and then I called a buddy of mine. He owns a title company. It’s a title-related question. Ultimately, what I came to the conclusion is certainly the city and municipality has the right to come on to my property to service that box but it’s a utility easement. Painting and artistic endeavors are consistent with the utility and I don’t think they have the right to do it. That’s a very high technical point.
It’s a legal point.
I think it’s a valid one. That wouldn’t be the first time I called the city in something that may not have been legally on steady ground. Instead of making a federal case about it, I called the city manager.
How did that go?
No one is painting my box.
There are a lot of other boxes in town that they can paint.
I don’t know why it made me so unreasonably upset. I don’t like the idea of someone expressing their art in my front yard without any input from me.
I get that. We did a mural project downtown where I was working with the CVB, Convention and Visitors Bureau, with the hotel occupancy taxes. We did get some artists commissioned to do murals on walls downtown. It was an effort to drive people down here and have something for them to look at. Those were conversations with the building owners. They were consulted and all of that. That was a totally different process.
You said your husband’s a graduate?
Yes, from Lamar with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. We met when we were both students at Lamar a gazillion years ago and we started a company. He took a break from school for a long time, for over several years.
What is the business?
We do additive injections.
What does that mean?
It means that we go onsite and administer a little cocktail of sorts to treat crude oil.
Is it in the petrochemical facilities around this area?
Yeah, anywhere there’s a waterway. The best place we’ve ever gotten to work is the Dutch Antilles.
Every time I talked to you over the years, you’re always going to school and learning more about something. Did you get your Master’s?
I did, in 2017.
Is it probably about time for you to go back to school? What are you looking at?
I’m not because Jay is finally finished. That means we can go on vacation and he might want to do a Master’s.
Are you not going to law school?
Why does everyone ask me that? I should’ve probably gone to law school and I still might one day.
Why do you think everybody asks you that?
I’m not sure, maybe because I hang out with many lawyers. My brother’s a lawyer.The fact that we live in a country where democracy is supposedly at play, you need to participate in that. Click To Tweet
Where does your brother work?
He has a private practice in Austin.
What stuff does he do out there?
He’s working on a startup. He’s done personal injury for a while and a couple of other things.
What’s up with the tattoos on your left arm? How long have you had all those?
I had these awhile, probably a long time.
I don’t remember it being a full sleeve when I first met you.
It’s a process, it’s five hours. That’s how you whittle away at it. It took about four years.
What made you choose to do that?
I was probably sixteen when I got my first tattoo but it wasn’t on this arm. It’s colorful and it’s a commitment. It reminds me of the important stuff. I have my corporate arm with no ink. Anytime I have to do a picture with business, professional stuff, I do this side.
Thank you for coming here. It’s fun to see you.
It was fun and no agenda.
We’ll do it again. Next time, we’ll bring Jay.
He’s so smart. He’ll have lots of things to talk about.
We’ll talk about Dutch Antilles or whatever. Thank you.
- Jes Prince
- Regional Planning Commission
- Family Services of Southeast Texas
- Downtown Beaumont Cultural Arts District
- Texas Commission on the Arts
- Wendy Davis – Previous episode
- Deeds Not Words
- Texas Association Against Sexual Conference
About Jes Prince
As Executive Vice President of Gulf Coast Injection, Inc. since 2005, I possess 13 years of experience with operations, oversight, business development, human resources, and fiscal functions.
I hold a Master’s of Public Policy Administration and Urban Development from UT Arlington. I am also an active Commercial Real Estate Associate Broker in Southeast Texas with a Certified Commercial Investment designation, (CCIM). I have negotiated acquisitions and dispositions in multiple asset classes.
I am a Broker associate with Agate Properties, LLC in Houston, Texas. As an active member on multiple non-profit boards in Jefferson County and have participated in our non-profit sector for 12 years. On a personal note, I am an over the top dog mom, avid cook and boisterous football fan. Life long resident of Texas!