"Transilient: . So, when you were younger, were you imagining yourself being a politician?
Jess: Not particularly, no. I became a politician in 2003. And I did it for really, I think, the only reason I think you should become a #politician - not to become a politician - but I had something I needed fixed. I built this house in 1999. The road that you came up on was gravel. And, you know, after a rain your car looked like - when it was dry, cars would go by and dust would just flow all over the place. So I had started going to the city council meetings, you know, to see if, “Are they gonna take care of the roads? Are we ever gonna get these things paved?” In 2003, I decided I’m just gonna... I’m gonna get on the council. I got on the council and it was - the timing was perfect because the gentleman who had been in charge of public works, which is who did roads, had resigned! He was too busy at work and what have you, so I got on the council like ‘I’ll take that!’ And, so, that was, you know, that was my goal. I had $40,000 a year at the time to handle all the roads in the town - which is not a lot of money, and it wasn’t enough to pave the roads altogether - so I would take a little bit of money each year and pave a little bit, you know. I’d take care of the problems, and then I’d take what I can scrape over and be like, ‘Okay, let’s take 20 feet of this road and asphalt it.’ And after about seven or eight years - I usually say seven, but it may have been eight years - I had all the roads paved. And at that point I was kind of hooked, you know. In 2016, I was running again for my seat as #councilman and #mayor pro tem. The mayor of the town was running for his position. He had a heart attack at the beginning of the election. He was in critical care. I took over as - that’s what... mayor pro tem is kinda like vice mayor or, you know, vice president. Three days before the election, he died. He still won the election. So, we’re a small enough town that we fall under what’s called General Rule in the state of #Texas. We’re a Class B town and the rule is prescribed that for a Class B town, the city council appoints a new mayor. They can appoint anyone. They could’ve appointed anybody that met the requirements - lived in town for a year, and, you know, I think over 18. I think we have a rule that says we can’t have dogs. I know somebody - one state just appointed a dog mayor. They do that. If they don’t put this in, they’ll do that every now and then just for the fun of it. But the council nominated me and voted for me unanimously and I became mayor!
Transilient: First trans mayor! So, how were you feeling? Like, were you overwhelmed at all?
Jess: Um. It was a little overwhelming, but I guess it’s… I used to ride mountain bikes and it’s kinda like when you’re halfway down a really rocky hill or something. It’s like, you know, you’re in it right now so just hold on because there’s just no good way to get off! Just see it through. And it’s been, well, it’s been kinda like this for six months! When I’m not down in #Austin, when I’m not doing my job, when I’m not - y’all are here. Yesterday I did, I came over here and we sat in there, in the library, for the Bishop Arts district. He did an online interview two days before that. PBS - I did a Skype interview for On The Contrary. Uh, I mean I’ve been on - I’ll show you something… I’ve been - I’ve got a list of things, it’s just amazing. I had a guy send me a message on Facebook not too long ago and said ‘Hey, um, I’d like to send you something.’ [hands over papers] You see the stamps?
Transilient: Wow! India!! "