One-on-one with Rep. Stephenson
Herald Tribune: Thank you for joining us, Rep. Stephenson, and congratulations on once again winning House District 85.
Rep. Stephenson: Thanks.
Herald Tribune: As an incumbent starting another term, do you come in with the intent of just picking up where you left off, or do you have a new agenda for this term? If so, what is that agenda?
Rep. Stephenson: Both, I intend on refilling legislation to deal with runaway property taxes offering meaningful tax relief and comprehensive legislation to address unfunded liabilities in the Teachers Retirement System. Next year is redistricting, as a Republican I will fight for maps that favor republican candidates so we can preserve the success and prosperity of our state. As well, there may be considerable challenges to address that have been created by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Herald Tribune: In last month's public forum which we held here in Edna, you said that you don't fix big problems, like the border, by doing little things. What are some of the big things you would propose in the Texas Legislature to help tighten the border?
Rep. Stephenson: The reality of the border is that it largely falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The large things the State of Texas can do are to maintain the levels of funding for border security efforts, continue grants for border prosecution, border fire departments, and economic development. The state alone cannot prevent illegal immigration. What we can do is solve the problems created here at home.
Herald Tribune: What do you think will be the biggest challenge in this next Legislative session?
Rep. Stephenson: Redistricting.
Herald Tribune: Are there any specific interests or speical projects coming up in the House which will benefit the people of Jackson County?
Rep. Stephenson: The largest issue that will affect the people of Jackson County is redistricting. It will be one of the most important things we do in session next year. Rural values are hard to come by in Austin. A large portion of my colleagues represent huge powerful cities. We need to keep Jackson County in a House district that is going to benefit the people in your communities.
Herald Tribune: Of course, we hope you have many more years of public service ahead of you. However, when the day finally comes that you decide to retire, what would you like people to remember most about Phil Stephenson and your years of public service?
Rep. Stephenson: That I did or worked hard to do what I said I was going to do. I would like to be remembered as a legislator who had a passion for fixing problems and not getting bogged down by politics.
Herald Tribune: It's spring season. Tell us about your love for baseball.
Rep. Stephenson: I love baseball. Not only for the sportsmanship and athleticism but for its lessons one can carry over into everyday life. There are several, but the one I use more often is the ability to lose. Losing is a terrible part of life. But, those who get back up and charge harder the next time are often better for it.
Herald Tribune: Again, thank you Rep. Stephenson for making time for us. We know you’re busy. We wish you the best during your new term.
By John Meng, Publisher/Editor