Getting To Know A Local Lawmaker: Rep. Phil Stephenson

Rep. Phil Stephenson, District 85
Out of 150 House Representatives in the Texas Legislature, 43 are brand new including Representative Phil Stephenson of Wharton County. He's a CPA by day and for the next few months he'll also be a legislator. KUHF news will be following his progress, highs and lows so today we introduce one of your local lawmakers.

That was one of the political ads that flooded Wharton County last year when Republican Phil Stephenson went up against Democrat Dora Olivo, Representative Stephenson won with 58% of the vote to Olivo’s 41% probably based on this portfolio.

“I believe that I have the skills with my experience as a certified public accountant and working with the junior colleges for 16 years to help education and financial situations.”

Phil Stephenson was born in Duncan, Oklahoma and by way of college in Plainview eventually found himself working as a CPA in Wharton County, just southwest of Houston. He lives there with his wife Barbara, son and daughter and six grandkids.

“I know everybody in Wharton, Texas just about.”

A population of about 10,000 people who chose him to be their representative. Suddenly he’s leaving that behind and moving to Austin, Texas as a lawmaker.

“The next day after I won the general election, I’m driving down the street by myself somewhere I forgot where I was going, I said, 'Oh my gosh. I’m just one of 150 representatives up here that’s gonna make decisions for 26.5 million people in Texas and I hope I don’t harm somebody.'”

So he found himself an apartment just a quick walk from the Capitol and picked his office.

“I’m pretty close to the bathrooms and I’m right down from the cafeteria. We’re pretty good moved in. I got a couple of TVs. I got one in my office that goes right to the floor, so if I’m up here, I can see what’s happening on the floor.”

Since then it’s just been a matter of getting to know the other lawmakers and deciding what bills he’d like to work on.

“There’ll be some bills because I’ve been basically going around to all the big issues — water, transportation, education, and  public safety and health — and meeting with people who been here a long time and getting their opinions trying to figure out what might be a great idea but doesn’t work.”

Even though he’s one of the new kids on the legislative block, he’s not going to be star struck by the more seasoned lawmakers.

“You know what, I met the governor, I met the lieutenant governor and the speaker, and I found out we all have something in common, they all put their pants on the same way I do. I’m not awed by them, they just doin' a job.”

The same job that Stephenson will be doing, making laws that affect every person in the state of Texas.

“It is a big honor to be up here feel privileged to serve the people of South Fort Bend, Wharton and Jackson County.”

We’ll continue to follow Representative Stephenson and provide updates throughout this 83rd legislative session.

 

To contact your state lawmakers, visit KUHF's Lawmaker Locator Map.

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...