Jason Isaac ’96 and his wife, Carrie ’97, are conspicuously charming while seated in Jason’s Texas State Capitol office as they discuss the path that brought him to the Texas House of Representatives.
Seated in front of a wall covered in family portraits, Carrie’s floor-length blue gown and Jason’s stark black tuxedo, worn in anticipation of a formal gathering that evening, belie the couple’s down-to-earth disposition.
Then the pattern on Jason’s sock peeks out near his ankle, and you can’t help but grin at the patchwork of axes that pay homage to the couple’s alma mater.
“Getting involved in organizations at SFA and accepting leadership roles there has helped tremendously here in the Capitol,” Jason said. “I encourage people to talk to me. I do try to spend a lot of time talking with people about why I’ve made certain decisions or done certain things, and you can do all that by being civil.”
It’s these traits — openness and civility — that led Jason to accomplish a feat few politicians have achieved — election to office following their very first campaign.
“Having that patience and willingness to listen is something I learned in the classroom,” Jason said. “Dr. Tim Clipson [professor emeritus of business communication and legal studies] taught us the importance of communication, and the most important aspect of communication is listening.”
Life at SFA
Jason was born in Spring, Texas — just a stone’s throw away from Humble where Carrie was raised. The couple didn’t meet, however, until both signed up for a history summer course at SFA with varying levels of enthusiasm.
“I saved the subjects I didn’t like for the summer, which is why I took history,” Carrie laughed. “I didn’t like history."
Both Jason and Carrie were involved in student clubs and organizations throughout their time at SFA. Carrie was on the water ski team and was vice president and treasurer of the Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society in Family and Consumer Sciences, president and treasurer of the American Society of Interior Design Chapter, and a member of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society.
Jason started SFA’s intercollegiate club lacrosse team, which continues to this day. He also helped launch a chapter of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity in 1991. In his various roles with the organization, Jason employed the many marks of a good politician that would inevitably lead him into government.
“I was president of the fraternity my last year, and as you know fraternities have loud fundraisers from time to time,” Jason said. “We would do fundraisers for the women’s shelter and the East Texas Boy’s Ranch, and since those events could get loud, I asked members to walk around and talk to the neighbors to let them know we would be doing this loud event. We would even offer to buy them dinner at a restaurant and would assure them that we were going to pick up any trash."
Life as a Representative
The trucking industry served as the main catalyst for Jason’s entry into the political realm.
“When I graduated college, I was actually living in Dallas and got a job with a company based out of Washington, D.C., that sold mobile communications technology to the trucking industry,” Jason explained. “Because of that job, I got involved with a trucking association here in Texas.”
In 2005, he continued, the Texas Legislature had changed the taxing structure the state puts on businesses. Trucking businesses, Jason discovered, were not buying as many GPS and radio technologies because of increased taxes, meaning a downturn in Jason’s business. So in 2007, he decided to attend Trucking Day at the Capitol.
“I started to realize there were people in this pink dome in the middle of Austin who were making decisions that were impacting my life and my ability to provide for my family, so I came up here, and I met with people,” he said. “That’s what my mom taught me: If you don’t like something, get involved and change it.”
Eventually, Jason and his family moved from the Dallas area to Dripping Springs, a quickly growing township just west of Austin. Pursuit of office wasn’t on Jason’s mind until someone he met while coaching lacrosse encouraged him to run for the House seat.
“He told me, ‘You’re not going to win. The person you’re going to run against is very well-funded and will beat you handily, but it might set you up for something in the future,’” Jason said. “And we saw him again the night of the election watch party, and he said, ‘I had no idea you were going to work that hard.’"
For 10 months and three days, Jason and Carrie spent all but two of those days walking door to door throughout Texas’ House District 45 introducing themselves to potential constituents.
“Those days, we literally left the house at 8 a.m. and didn’t get back until maybe midnight,” Carrie said. “We worked really hard. Our goal was to meet as many people as we could, and that’s what we did.”
Jason was elected in 2010 by a margin of 8 percentage points. He has since been re-elected three times and, looking back, understands that it was a unique achievement.
“It was an amazing night. I’ll never forget the energy of that night,” Carrie said.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen,” Jason added with a slight grin on his face. “Now we understand a little bit more that was kind of a big deal.”
Peering around Jason’s Capitol office, it’s easy to see that the SFA business and marketing graduate has settled nicely into his role as a politician. He keeps himself surrounded by pictures of family and Texas-themed trinkets as reminders of what led him to work in the big pink dome in the middle of Austin.