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Bobbie Jo Tremain, Politician MAG
An Interview with Bobbie Jo Tremain, Politician
by Amy W., Houston, TX
Bobbie Jo Tremain, a native Texan, was a drama major at Sam Houston State University and was set to star in a major motion picture that was shelved when the lead actor, Ward Bond, died. She has been extremely active in her local community, an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau, precinct chairman, election judge and a four-time representative for District 15 at the Republican State Convention. Her greatest influence in local politics was her connection with the issue of term limits. After a failed attempt to institute term limits in the city of Houston, Citizens for Term Limits (and its founder, Clymer Wright) sought Mrs. Tremain to head its organization.
How did you get started in politics?
As a teenager, I always thought I would be the first woman president, but I did not know how to run for office. I did not even know how to get started, so I never did. Later, when my kids were little, we lived in Houston and I became quite disenchanted with the school district. I was going to run for the school board and change things, but my husband bought a house out of the Houston Independent School District to prevent me from running. I stayed out of politics until recently. We did, however, raise our children to be politically aware and to care about what is going on. As for being active politicians, we were not.
So, you did not plan on becoming politically active?
No. The precinct chairman resigned and they needed a new one. I volunteered to run the election and that is how I got started.
Why term limits?
Because politicians get too entrenched where they are. They begin to think they own the office or whatever it is they are governing. They may suffer burn out, but they will stay in for the money, for the fame, for whatever purpose they have in their black, little hearts.
But isn't that a little presumptuous? Isn't it possible for some politicians to become more astute with their duties so that they can actually accomplish more for their community?
You are absolutely correct; some can. Unfortunately, however, those few who do often suffer because the majority [of politicians] are not that way.
Why do you feel that term limits should be the way to "weed out" elected officials who no longer are effective, as opposed to the polls?
Voters are most often uninformed about the issues or the candidates. They will vote for the name that is most familiar, whether that person is the right person or not. If you took Gene Autrey [or Roy Rogers] and put him on the ballot, he would be more likely to win than John Jones.
Are you saying that the problem is with the people more than the politicians?
No, the politicians are the problem. The polls are not the right place for term limits. Those who are competent and who have character should move on, possibly to a higher office. Why stay on city council forever and not move to the mayoral or national political arena?
Is it possible that it might take longer than two terms to accomplish the legislation that they want ?
The only term limits we have right now are for city council and mayor - those are for three terms. Six years is usually enough time to accomplish anything. Let someone else come in with new ideas, new "fields of dreams."
Have you seen any accomplishments from term limits in the city since it was passed?
Yes. I think we have cleaned out some politicians who had no expertise or competence.
What are some examples?
As far as city council is concerned, I think we are making a turn to a more conservative government. They are currently trying to put some ceilings on spending as well as working to clean up the inner city. Crime has gone down considerably. The emphasis has been put on what the people want. These new officials are straight to the point. They know what is needed.
Why did you fight for term limits?
Clymer Wright asked my husband and me to help with the term limits project. I told Clymer that I would run it, that we would get enough signatures, but it had to be run my way, in my house and on my terms because that was the only way that I would do it. A bunch of telephone lines were installed, we turned everything around and set it up to run the term limits petition drive. We actually had more than enough qualified signatures to pass the petition in a little over two weeks, without spending much money at all.
I understand that people have voted to build a new baseball stadium in downtown Houston. What is your opinion?
I think it is just as bad as the "Bud-Dome." Somehow, that one slipped by. Unfortunately, I was not involved in any ground-floor protest.
But is a new baseball stadium what the voters want?
The people, I believe, were given the extreme runaround by a mayor who was good at it. He made it seem like we were going to get something for nothing. But the voters, who thought they were not going to have to pay, will find themselves digging deep into their pocketbooks.
Looking at your life in the political arena, would you go back and change anything?
I would get involved sooner, younger; I should have gotten involved 40 years ago.
What is your goal in the political arena?
I wish that young people would get more involved in education, morals and what is going on in the government.
Why do you go so far in politics if you do not get paid for doing it?
Because I believe in it.
How do you go from being an actress to a business owner to a politician?
My ambition was always to be an actress, but my husband did not want to go to Hollywood because that was not where he wanted to raise our children. So I agreed. I went into business because we needed money and I was an interior decorator for many years. I did well, but got burned out. I have an interest in what happens in our neighborhood and that is why I ran for the board of directors [of the Inwood Forest Civic Club].
If I wanted to get started in politics, how would I do it?
I would start at ground level and become a precinct chairman.
Today, we find that most women are politically liberal Democrats and consider that party to be more concerned with "women's issues." Why do you choose to be a conservative?
I think they are terribly misguided in what they consider to be women's issues and the good of women. Women call equal rights in the workplace a woman's issue and sexual harassment a woman's issue. True, sexual harassment does happen. I was a victim of it in one of my jobs and it was so difficult, I had to resign. Women are creating an atmosphere in which a man is afraid to say, "AYour hair looks nice today," or even be a gentleman. We are not raising a nation of ladies and gentleman in the old-fashioned sense. We are raising a generation of mixed-up people who do not know who they are and what they are doing. If you raise a girl as a girl and a boy as a boy, then they know who they are and what they are doing. You give them good role models, as mothers and fathers should. You love one another and create a home in which to love them, then you raise well-balanced children who care about things. These so-called women's issues just mess the world up.
You would not say that the initial laws to protect women from sexual harassment are bad?
I wish I had had some protection when I was up against it, but it has to be real sexual harassment, not a simple compliment or a minor flirtation. Physically overpowering someone, manhandling or continually making crude remarks constitutes sexual harassment.
I believe in equal pay. I do not believe in quotas. I do not believe in so-called affirmative action where you have to hire or promote based on some artificial criteria. I think everyone should be taken on merit. If a woman and a man are doing the same job, they should receive the same pay. The man should not be paid twice as much as the woman simply because he is a man. That is wrong. There are some things that the women's movement did accomplish, but I think they have gone too far.
Do you feel their purpose is pass", like unions?
More or less in that same respect. Some of it is still needed - some unions are still needed. There are laws to take care of things, but I think the pendulum has gone too far the other way.