Episode #014 - State Representative DeWayne Burns joins us for our fourth Community Highlight Episode! As we continue to highlight leaders in our community, Representative Burns is an obvious candidate for this informal interview. DeWayne does an outstanding job of representing Johnson & Bosque Counties. Join us as we get to know DeWayne and the impact he is having on our community! (https://youtu.be/UKzZXDe3Fuo)
DeWayne’s Bio: Bio: DeWayne Burns was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2014 and was reelected this past March 2016. Raised in southwest Johnson County, he grew up on a small farm near the Bosque County line and the Brazos River. He attended public schools in Cleburne and graduated from Cleburne High School in 1990. After attending Texas A&M University, he transferred to Tarleton State University where he graduated in 1994. Representative Burns began his career with a stint at the Texas Grain and Feed Association before being hired as a legislative analyst for State Representatives Arlene Wohlgemuth and Gary Walker during the 74th legislative session. Later, he moved to the Texas Department of Agriculture under then-Commissioner Rick Perry where he was ultimately promoted to the position of Coordinator for Special Issues in the department’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division. Representative Burns also worked as an inspector for the Texas Department of Agriculture where he was responsible for weights and measures compliance, crop and seed certification, and enforcement of Texas’ plant and pest quarantine laws, among other tasks over a 10-county region which included Bosque and Johnson counties. Representative Burns is currently a property and business investment manager. DeWayne and his family are no strangers to hard work as they have a long history in farming, ranching and construction. The family ranch is still in operation to this day. Previously, DeWayne served as Vice President of the Cleburne ISD Board of Trustees, as President of the Johnson County Farm Bureau, as a member of the Johnson County Economic Development Commission, and as a Fire Commissioner for the Johnson County Emergency Services District #1. Representative Burns married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer, and they are the proud parents of two teenage sons and a daughter. The Burns Family are members of First Baptist Church of Cleburne.
Links from this episode
Texas State Representative website: https://house.texas.gov/members/member-page/?district=58
DeWayne’s campaign website: https://www.burnsfortexas.com/
DeWayne’s capital contact
P.O. Box 2910, Room E1.322
Austin, TX 78768
Episode #014 REN Podcast Transcription - State Representative DeWayne Burns
Jason: All right, good afternoon everybody, Jason Reynolds here with the real estate now podcast, and we are lucky today to have state representative DeWayne Burns from district 58, how are you sir?
DeWayne: Man I'm doing great, thanks for having me.
Jason: Perfect, perfect, well excited have to have DeWayne on, he covers Bosque and Johnson Counties, the full counties correct? (0:38)
DeWayne: That is correct, I'm one of the lucky districts that's built around two specific counties, many folks have, chopped up areas and areas that look strange and kind of gerrymandered around but my area is all of Johnson County, and all of Bosque County.
Jason: That's awesome.
DeWayne: Yeah it is, good place.
Jason: Perfect, well today we're going to talk to you-- Dwayne a little bit get to know him and then also talk about his role as a state representative, what that means for our district, a lot of you folks live in these areas so it's good to get to know him and we'll just take it from there, so tell us about your family, are you married, you got kids? (1:17)
DeWayne: Man that's a great question, yeah, you bet I am, I am married-- have been married now for 23 years-
DeWayne: - and to my lovely wife Jennifer who is also a Kleber night-
DeWayne: You know it’s funny, I I've known Jennifer since I was about 5 years old, we-
DeWayne: - we started-- we both attended the same church as children.
Jason: Was it First Baptist? (1:45)
DeWayne: it was-- no it’s actually New Hope Baptist Church, it's out in the country about so 15, 20 miles southwest of Cleburne, little-- small congregation, if we have a full church on Sunday we would have had maybe you know 30 or 40 folks and-
Jason: It's not bad.
DeWayne: - yeah, yeah, no-
Jason: Sometimes that's good having a small group.
DeWayne: It's a great-- well you grow up feeling like everybody in the area is your aunt, uncle, or cousin, and I couldn't tell you which ones really are or really aren't, but it was fun so, but I've known Jen since then, and we've-- we never dated in high school or anything like that, but once I went off to college I guess I became okay enough to date and-
Jason: What you left the city? (2:30)
DeWayne: Yeah that's right, that's right, that's right, it got away, and so we began dating and then after we both graduated from college we tied the knot and it's been marital bliss ever since.
Jason: All right.
DeWayne: I only made-- only it made better and enhance by the fact that we have three great kids and Parker, Austin and Emma, and there-- they're-
Jason: They still now at home? (2:57)
DeWayne: Yeah, well one of them is at Tarleton State University right now, which is where Jennifer and I both graduated from, and then we have Austin who will be a senior this year, Cleveland High School.
DeWayne: Emma who will be a freshman this year, Cleveland High School, so it's a busy, busy time but a fun time and hate to see them grow up, if I could freeze them right where they are I would man, but it's all good things, it’s all part of life and-
DeWayne: - so it's fun.
Jason: Okay, so you graduated from Cleburne high in 1990, but what-- you were born in Bosque County, what was kind of your heritage in terms of where you were raised-
Jason: - there in Bosque county.
DeWayne: Okay, so actually, believe it or not I was born in Corpus Christi, so well we've had-
DeWayne: - yeah, so while we've had family and we've had our farm, it has been in the family for generations, for-- in fact my kids would be generation six, there have been times and periods when you know, because of economic situations and jobs and different things we've moved around a little bit, and at that particular time my mom's family was in Corpus Christi working and my dad's family is from Corpus Christi so, they were down there and met and I was born in Corpus Christi, but we moved back up here when I was young, in fact preschool age and pretty much stayed in in Cleburne my whole my whole life.
Jason: Awesome, so did your parents have a farm in Bosque County? (4:34)
DeWayne: Okay, so the Bosque County comes into comes into play because I had a-- and I can't remember his name right off the top of my head, but I had a great, great uncle that was a county commissioner in Bosque County, but our farm-- and actually Jennifer my wife's dad and granddad her-- my in-laws they have a ranch-
DeWayne: - that are kind of next to each other right there on the Bosque County, Johnson County line, there on the Johnson County line-
DeWayne: - on the Johnson County side I mean, but that's where our farm and their ranch-- our ranches are located, and we used to always sell cattle in Bosque County and you know, travel to Clifton or travel to you know, Meridian, wherever to sell cattle.
Jason: Okay, so when you grew up, went to Cleburne and then went to A&M, and then Tarleton, what do you get a degree in, and kind of what was the steps after that? (5:28)
DeWayne: Sure, I was-- when I went off to A&M I was going to be an engineer, and I think that's a great career for anyone to pick and choose, but I transferred to Tarleton and got a degree in agricultural services and development, it's just kind of a general ARG. Degree, with a minor in business, and as part of my education there, but one of the things that Tarleton does a great job with is preparing students for careers, and we had to do an internship.
DeWayne: So I was required to do an internship, I did an unpaid internship with the Texas Department of Agriculture and at that time a fella by the name of Rick Perry was the Commissioner of Agriculture.
Jason: That sounds familiar.
DeWayne: Yeah, and so I moved to Austin, stayed with some relatives down there in Pflugerville and work-- did my internship with the Department of Agriculture. The internet had just been invented you know, so it was a new time, a new era and I was the kind of the young guy that knew a little bit about that and how to research bills the session, we were-- it was the fall, so we were preparing for this session and I helped them do Bill analysis and create a tracking system for our bills that would affect rural Texas or agriculture-
DeWayne: - and did that, I think you know pretty successfully and then graduated that December of 94 right after that.
Jason: Okay, so did you stay working in with the legislature after that, how did that turn out? (7:06)
DeWayne: Yeah, so, all right, left Tarleton didn't have a job at-- but I got a job pretty quickly with Texas feed and grain association-
DeWayne: - and they said you can work here till you get worked somewhere else, luckily it wasn't too long, I stayed there and then the local state representative for this area at that time was Arlene Willkommen.
DeWayne: And she had hired one of my high school FFA buddies who was a leader in our high school, and officer in the FFA state officer in FFA Chris Britton, and he hired me to work for Arlene Willkommen, now because she was a good frugal fiscally responsible Republican, she also had-- she shared me with her colleague Gary Walker, so they split me I worked for two state representatives at the same time during that session, and it was incredible and-- but it was a great experience, so I worked with state in the legislature, worked for those two members, but the great thing and maybe one of the greatest things that happened to me and I really didn't have anything to do with it was, Rick Perry they decided they wanted me to come back to work for the department, so I can help keep doing that bill tracking and analysis and keep up with that system, so they talked to Gary and Arlene without me knowing it and I'd-- they just kind of all had a meeting with me one day and said guess what? you get to go back to work for the Department of Agriculture and Rick Perry and I was thrilled about that-
DeWayne: - and so I did, and to make a long story longer Jason, I stayed with commissioner Perry at the time you know, worked my way up, I was you know just kind of devoted to it, I loved it, and had a passion for rural Texas and for property rights and all the things that commissioner Perry believed in, before you know what I've become coordinator for special issues, and so I worked my way up from kind of an internship to that coordinator position where I was able to travel from the state with commissioner Perry, I still call him Commissioner Perry forgive me for that.
DeWayne: You know, but I was able to travel the state and brief him on issues as he was dealing-- you know as he was helping rural Texas and deal with who knows what, pesticide issues, drought issues.
DeWayne: You name it and we would do research and help him with that, and maybe even weigh in on legislation if we were asked, it was a great experience.
Jason: Okay, and then at some point you've been with the Texas Farm Bureau as well, is that correct? (9:50)
DeWayne: Okay, yes sir. So when Rick Perry decided to run for lieutenant governor.
DeWayne: My wife Jennifer had-- she's a schoolteacher and we were we had our first son Parker, he was already on the ground as they say in AG terms and we wanted to get back their family, that's an important part of our lives, so we moved back to Cleveland.
DeWayne: When I did that, I stayed with the Department of Agriculture but I started getting involved locally and stuff going on, and Farm Bureau was a natural thing for me, so I became a board member of our local Farm Bureau-- County Farm Bureau of Johnson County Farm Bureau and I'm still on the board there.
DeWayne: And I've been on the board and a member of our Johnson County Farm Bureau's I guess now since 2000.
DeWayne: So for 18 years, 18 years this July as a matter of fact, and you know my job with them it's an unpaid deal, I'm just a director but I've served as president for you know 10 years during that period but it's really to promote agriculture and the things that we as Texans hold there and fight for property rights, and promote local youth and make sure that-- we're doing our job to make sure folks are fed, and there's a safe and abundant food supply, Yeah, so it’s awesome.
Jason: You’ve got a history with them then?
DeWayne: Yeah, I do, yeah, sure do.
Jason: So, I had a slogan for you that I was going to propose but we can't do it anymore if you born and raised in 58.
DeWayne: Oh yeah.
Jason: So, I guess you weren't born, so you say raised to 58?
DeWayne: Raised to 58.
DeWayne: That's exactly right, that's right.
Jason: So district 58 we talked about how it covers Johnson and Bosque County, can you kind of walk through maybe the major cities that that includes, just so folks, maybe they don't know exactly what you know that includes? (11:38)
DeWayne: Sure, sure, yeah, and of course Jason, they're all major cities right in my heart.
DeWayne: Yes, but you know, district 58 and there's so much to say about it but we-- you know Johnson and Bosque counties, and so I represent all the you know the southernmost town in our district is Valley Mills, all the way up to Burleson, and then there's so many great cities in between you know represent Cleburne and Grandview, Ra Vista, I say Ra Vista because I was raised down there. Yeah, that's the right way to say it, you know godly christen, you name it, Joshua, Alvarado, Venus, and all of which areas that are growing and have things going for them, great things going for them, but-- and then down in Bosque County of course there's Iredell and tramples Gap and Meridian and Clifton and you know it's just a-- it's a great area to represent, you know all the way to Lakeside Village and corporal small towns, that a lot of folks have never maybe even heard of but each unique and they're their own little paradise in Texas if you go visit.
Jason: Yeah, you still got a lot of communities that are a part of that.
DeWayne: Yes, we have a-- we have several school districts, we have several cities, you know some representative, state representatives may only have one school district for example, if they live near Dallas or Fort Worth, but you know we've got dozens and that presents challenges but it's a good thing too, because they're all different and they all add value to kids in their own ways, and it's a good thing, I like it.
So, if I were to design a district, I like it-- we have the suburban and urban area, we have great production, we have the industrial area, obviously as you get north, we're growing exponentially Burleson is just incredible-- growing incredibly, and as you go down the Chisholm Trail Parkway and I-35 corridor, you know, Alvarado, Cleburne and Joshua, they're all going-- they're all seeing that growth now and Venus is seeing growth and so that's exciting but then, you know some of the cultural, you know things that are special in our district are amazing, you know Clifton has really got a lot to offer for folks that are interested in Western arts and museum, you know they're Norwegian heritage, some of the things-- and they're really well kept secrets, but the music and the art, they go down on down in Clifton, Texas and in that area in Bosque County is really amazing too, so we've got it all here in district 58.
Jason: Okay, awesome, so what made you decide to run for state representative? I know you had representative or was in this seat prior. (14:37)
Jason: Was the district the exact same or was it-
Jason: - being the same for a while?
DeWayne: Yeah, it's been the same for a while, you know the district has changed and it could as we, you know Roche 2020 you know, the lines get redrawn based on population, right now 175,000 people or so or when the lines were drawn that's kind of where it was set, and you know that could change, I don't expect it will and I'll fight to keep it like it is, but it should-- Lord will and I'm here at that time there-- you know at one time I think when representative Willkommen was in place, she also had Somerville County and Hood County and didn't have Bosque County at the time, but as you know things move in population shifts so did the lines-
DeWayne: - but I think most of the time-- for most of Rob's term or maybe all of it that it was Johnson and Bosque county.
DeWayne: And, but the question you asked, you asked me why-- why I do this, and that is-
Jason: You make it sound bad.
DeWayne: No it's not, it's a-- I tell you what, there are-- there's so many good things about doing this, there's some crummy things too, but you know the good way outweighs the bad and-- but I'll tell you what, the reason why I do this and it's-- I don't want to sound corny or anything like that but, I believe we're all on a mission each and every day, I'm a-- I personally and I don't impose or force my faith upon anyone, I wouldn't do that but, personally I'm a Christian, I take Jesus as my example and I'm taught by his example in the Bible that we are all in a constant state of witness and ministry, and we're here to serve and love others and if you look at the life of Jesus that's what he did, where there was a need he filled it right and appropriately.
So, when this-- you know this is something that I never really thought I would do I enjoyed being associated with the legislature all those years ago, but when the opportunity came about and Rob had decided not to run again and I was approached by folks in the community, folks in the Farm Bureau, folks in the AG community, friends and neighbors and about running and saying you've got some experience, you've got the heart to do it, and really just boil down to praying with my family about it.
DeWayne: We accepted this-- that opportunity as a mission, win or lose it was a mission.
Jason: And it takes a lot of work even if you win or lose. (17:18)
DeWayne: It does, yeah, you're exactly right, you have to be prepared for that, and I told the folks that were campaigning for me at the time, look, you know, we've got a mission and the ultimate mission is to spread the light of Christ, and in doing so if we win the election man that's awesome.
DeWayne: And-- so we did that but you know, here's the deal I'm one of those old-fashioned Texans and I believe in personal responsibility, I believe in personal freedom, I believe that there is no one too big to fail, but we're all big enough to succeed if we try, and you know I believe in the things that Texans hold dear, you know their property, and their families, and God, and that's why I'm here.
Jason: Okay, so then say going into that, what's your favorite part about running, at least about running for state representative, not necessarily being a state representative but running for state rep? (18:03)
DeWayne: Okay, running for State Representative, wow! You know, campaigning is tough.
DeWayne: I'll tell you that, that is the hardest part of the job is campaigning because you put yourself and your family out there.
Jason: Yes, that’s true.
DeWayne: And they-- and it's difficult on the family too but, probably just visiting with people, you know we walk a lot-- we walked a lot of blocks if you've been around folks, they've probably seen me walking the streets, I'm not-- you know I promise I'm not a vagrant, I'm just out there looking for your vote, looking to meet you, but you know that's probably the best part, it's the hardest part but it's the most rewarding, is staring people in the eye, giving them a firm handshake and saying, you know here's Who I am, what's important to you-
DeWayne: And then having their wherewithal and to listen is an important thing too, and I think that's my favorite part, is just getting to know people, getting to know the issues.
Jason: Okay, so the elements of being a state representative, you're in session every two years, so you're not in session right now obviously.
Jason: When will sessions start again for you? (19:21)
DeWayne: Starts in mid-June, second week-- I'm sorry January, second week of January, coming up in 2019.
Jason: Perfect, so then-- Dwayne and I were talking before we jumped on, but he's so-- he'll actually-- the chances are high that you will be in session, because right now you don't have anybody that's running against you.
DeWayne: That is correct, that's correct, I was-- I did not have an opponent in the Republican primary and there was no one involved in the Democratic primary, so I ran unopposed and the primaries and now will run unopposed in the general election coming up in November, so yeah the odds are with us this time, we’re going to win this election, the odds are better than ever.
DeWayne: That we're going to actually win this one, so you know if nothing crazy or catastrophic happens whatever, Lord willing I'll be there in January to start my third term.
Jason: So that an element of being a representative as you sit on committees, now I just realized this-- your committees’ kind of change as you go into next year potentially? (20:15)
DeWayne: Yes sir, they will, so the last-- my last-- my first two terms I served on the same committees, I served on a house Natural Resources, I was the only freshman on that committee.
DeWayne: Yeah, which is kind of a big deal, and deals with all of the water issues, groundwater, surface water issues in the state, and then also served on Homeland Security and Public Safety which of course has responsibility for law enforcement, or anything that has to do with guns, any law that has to do with guns also, you know protecting our borders and those issues.
So yeah, it's been a-- and then this last session I was also appointed to the Rules Committee-
DeWayne: - and rules and resolutions committee, but next session that could all change, we're going to have a new speaker, don't know who that's going to be, nobody does, if they tell you they do they don't know, and so all of that could change but, you know I'm going to work hard wherever I'm at and do my best to represent my people that's for sure.
Jason: Okay, so then for Johnson and Bosque County I mean you're on these committees, what are some of the biggest issues that have come up you know in our district, and maybe what do you see as big issues coming up with the future, from the things you kind of deal with on hand, when you're in session? (21:31)
DeWayne: You know, there are so many issues-
DeWayne: - Jason it's so hard and-
Jason: You didn't bring your list?
DeWayne: I know I wouldn't-- it couldn't fit
Jason: Yeah, but you know, and I hear about all of them.
DeWayne: And I hear about them all often, and I like that, I need to, that helps me do my job but you know, some of the issues that I focused on have been like our pastor Protection Act, that was an important thing I think we did, protecting our closely held religious beliefs, protecting our pastors from their sermons becoming a-- subpoenaed-
DeWayne: - for example, that was a big deal but, I would say on a broader scale though, we've got some issues when it comes to budget that's always the big issue, is where we going to spend our money and how much money we're going to have and what are we going to do to stop the growth of state government and to return some of that money if we can to the taxpayers.
DeWayne: I think beyond that, some of the specific issues that I get-- that folks talked to me about all the time are you know teacher retirement and teacher pay and how are we going to do that-- how we're going to fund schools, probably taxes the best way to do that, I'm not convinced that it is, but what are the alternatives, like I said eminent domain authority and private property rights are a huge deal, I was honored to carry the comprehensive eminent domain reform bill last session, we weren't able to get across the finish line, but it was a an effort to really improve the position of landowners when they're being faced with condemnation proceedings.
DeWayne: So, I think-- I look to that to be a big issue again, another deal is unfunded mandates, I don't believe that it's right for the state to continue to pass cost to our counties in our cities which then in turn raises your property taxes, if we're going to-- if we think that something is worth funding and worth doing at the state level, I think we ought to fund it and do it from the state level, I don't think we ought to just pass that through and then let the local taxpayers pay to pay for it through property taxes, so those will be some of the issues that I-- that I'll continue to work on and we'll have specific issues like you know, things that help our community and that are specific to our committee, for example the highway we just drove on was the deputy Clifton Taylor Highway-- Memorial Highway and I was honored to carry that bill with Senator Burn last session to designate that portion of I-35 the deputy Clifton Taylor Memorial Highway in honor of his service and so you know there's issues all over the map-
DeWayne: - and we just-- when we don't-- when we're not sure or where we are-- when we have questions we go back to the folks here, because there's folks here that know and I think that's the important thing.
Jason: No, that's great, that's great, so one thing I-- you know we've just got a few minutes left, but there's a lot of cool things happening in the district too, you know every time I-- how unique everything is you know, there's so many rural pockets that have their own kind of community and personality, but just before we met you were talking about a neat business that's in between Burleson and Cleburne.
Jason: Can you talk-- I mean that's interesting, can you talk about that and maybe elaborate on businesses like that kind of what you do on a daily basis, what you said you didn't even know this was here you know but, you are kind of learning more about these businesses. (25:03)
DeWayne: Sure man, that's a huge part of you know, where I see my role is making sure that governments out of the way so that we can have economic development and economic growth and folks will move to our area and want to continue to move to our area, and one of the great things I've seen is because of our proximity to the Metroplex but also because we have great towns and cities to live and work, that we have more industrial and corporate partners moving in, one of those that I was telling you about is US poly Co and when I met their president today and they showed me around and their facility that is using state-of-the-art technology to make the ingredients that go into high-impact shingles, but they make them better, and they've copyrighted some polymers and they've patented some processes but, in doing so they also came up with a process by which they're going to use and they do use recycled tires in the making of asphalt for pavement, and it has shown to be stronger, and it's got increased-- almost double the longevity of current methods and current polymers, and they're really excited about that, their facility is going to be growing and they've already got more orders to fulfill the making, fill and demand for them to come and produce in different parts of the world, and not only just in Texas but in-- across the United States and in-- and across the ocean and to have that kind of technology and development in and incorporation here in Johnson County I think is excellent, it's awesome, you know for the jobs, for everything that comes along with it, and you know we've got F wave right here in Burleson just up the road that's doing great things with solar technology and shingles and high impact shingles as well and made out of recycled pellets and different things that technology, yeah that
DeWayne: - I don't even-- you know I don't know the process but I know it's good, and they're filling orders too left and right and can't meet their demand and it's incredible what's going on, I'm just-- I'm glad that other parts of the state in the country are seeing what we've always known, this is a great place to live and work.
Jason: Right, yeah.
DeWayne: Because it's not-- that's not just one story like you said there's-- did you go down 35 with the Industrial Park, I mean there's businesses plopping out right and left over there. (27:39)
Jason: That's correct.
DeWayne: In fact, the F wave, the company I was just talking about, that's really a shingle company but we'll wind up being a solarforce, you know, in a solar industry before it's all said and done as we move forward they're going to be right here in the industrial park, and you right, the industrial parks filling up here and in Cleburne and all over, and a lot of great things going on in our area.
Jason: So, for those that are watching that maybe, you know have concerns or issues and they want to get their voice heard, how would they get a hold of your office and you know especially if they're a resident of Johnson or Bosque County to voice those concerns to maybe see if there's anything that can be done? (28:13)
DeWayne: Sure, well, for the most part anybody can see us on the web, we have a website, it's burntforTexas.com.
DeWayne: And you can go there and that'll give you access to our Facebook page and what's going on in the district and news and events and then has contact information there as well, but you can always call our capital office and of course that number is 512-463-0538, we've got staff in Austin, we also have staff in the district that answered those phones and-- but anyway it but-- I'm also just as accessible, if you see me out somewhere and need to talk about something, well say something! Yeah, that's part of the job, that's part of the earnest, honestly what happens you know, I shared my cell phone with everyone, I put it on the-- on our mailers and you know, I'm just a guy here just like everybody else.
DeWayne: And I want to be approachable, and i want people feel like they can talk to me about their issues and if we can help them or if something needs to change we'll get on it.
Jason: Perfect, okay, we'll link everything in the description below, so that way you guys can see that number, the website and also a link probably to your state rep website-
Jason: - through the capital, so thank you for joining us today.
Jason: Representative, and we'll look forward to maybe next time we talk.
DeWayne: Yeah man, I appreciate it, thank you very much.
Jason: Thank you!