When Bay City City Council gets out of line, residents can always be sure someone will be there to call them out—and more often than not, that someone is Jerry Evans.

Though born in San Antonio, Jerry has lived in Bay City since 1968, graduating from high school there and then building his home and business in the area. Jerry and his wife Kelly own Sunolta Finance and Care Cash Express, financial and tax service stores with four locations throughout Bay City, Clute, and Rosenberg.

Aside from establishing his family, home, and business in the area, Bay City is where his love for politics grew as well.

Jerry served as chair of the Matagorda County Republican Party for 10 years, from 1986 to 1996, and also served on the city council from 1989 to 1991. Additionally, he was elected to chair the Charter Commission and helped usher in a home rule charter to Bay City in 1988.

Needless to say, his close personal experience with Bay City is why he’s so determined to hold its officials accountable.

Jerry was recently involved in pushing back against city charter revisions when he found out the Bay City mayor voted to block citizens from having the right to vote on a change to the city manager position. Jerry said he knew this action violated the city charter and decided to look deeper:

“I found out the city had changed several sections of the charter without disclosure or a vote, as required by state law,” he said. “This included our original signed preamble that set out that voters adopted a weak mayor-council form of government, which just conveniently disappeared.”

Jerry helped create the group Restore the Bay City Charter to distribute information to residents, showing how the city’s mayor was violating the charter and what citizens could do about it. Even now, the group continues to highlight when city officials violate the charter, and Jerry has even helped file a lawsuit to force city officials to adhere to it.

“No one is above the law,” he said.

Jerry also explained why he cares about keeping a watch on his local officials.

“I came of age in the era of Reagan. He was the first president I cast a vote for as an adult and his quote of ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction …’ has always rung true to me, and it is what is under attack at our city hall when a charter can be so arrogantly disregarded.”

Jerry’s efforts aren’t just Bay City-related. He also worked on the campaign of Matagorda County Commissioner Gary Graham, the first Republican elected to commissioners court in the county since the Civil War. More recently, Jerry was appointed to the Matagorda Hospital board of directors and last year became the vice chairman of the Matagorda County Republican Party.

Simply put, Jerry says that through his activism he wants to see the restoration of the city charter to what voters approved and to ensure that all of his local officials follow the law.

Though they say work doesn’t leave them much downtime, Jerry and Kelly love to spend time with their three kids and two grandchildren. They also enjoy rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, hunting, and helping out at the family cattle ranch.

To other activists or would-be activists around the state, Jerry has encouragement:

“Read everything, listen respectfully. But if you’re right, stand up for your beliefs.”

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.