If you have been to a recent Glen Rose City Council meeting, you have probably seen Julia Douglas.
She’s not a city council member, but she makes it her business to stay informed.
Douglas was one of six candidates for a city council seat in 2016. That first-ever attempt to be elected to public office wasn’t a success. But Douglas applied to be on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and was appointed by the city council. She was quickly voted by the other four members as the P&Z chairperson.
She married Scott Douglas a year and a half ago, forming a blended family of seven.
She met Scott — who is a maintenance engineer for a retirement community in Cleburne — about four years ago in Glen Rose. He graduated from Athens High School.
Scott had three children — Randall Douglas, 20, an active-duty Army member now based in Fort Hood; Kris Douglas, 17, who just graduated from Glen Rose High School and plans to attend junior college; and Brandyn Douglas, 13, who will be a seventh grader at Glen Rose Junior High School.
The children she had from a previous marriage are Kiersten Wright, 10, who will be a fourth grader this fall; and Rory Wright, 8, who will be going into the third grade.
Their five children represent a wealth of incentives for Douglas to become involved in the community.
She noted that a famous Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has been an influence in her political aspirations as well as her personal life.
“A lot of the same things that I based my campaign on are the same principles I live my life by,” she said. “They’re the things that I raise my kids based off of. It’s not just a slogan.
“That’s how I try to live my life, that’s how I try to teach my kids because no one else is going to go out and do it for you. You have to be responsible for yourself. Nobody else is going to change the community for you. You need to go do it.”
Douglas also keeps busy being involved on the Oakdale Park Committee, and is the treasurer for Keep Glen Rose Beautiful.
She has worked the past six years as office manager for a custom home builder in Hood County. If those weren’t enough activities to keep Douglas swamped, she works on Saturdays at the Green Pickle restaurant in Glen Rose.
Douglas said she has been told that her family’s history in Somervell County goes back six or seven generations.
Her father, Brian Rice, and her stepmother, Donna Rice, live in Cleburne. Her mother, Tammy Dowell, and her stepfather, Lynoll Dowell, reside in Glen Rose.
She has a brother, Cody, who is a Glen Rose resident, and half brothers Matt and Mike Rice live in Cleburne. Brother David Dowell passed away five years ago.
Douglas, 34, said she has always had political aspirations.
“I wanted to be a federal judge — even when I was young. I wanted to work with juveniles. God had other plans for me but … if you would have asked me five years ago if I would be sitting here talking about planning and zoning I would have told you that you were crazy because I never would have imagined it.”
Douglas hasn’t always lived in Glen Rose, but has been here most of her life. Her father was in construction so they moved away for about six years when she was young, returning in time for her fourth-grade year. As an adult she lived in Burleson and Granbury for a while before returning to the only town she ever truly loved.
After graduating from Glen Rose High School in 2001, Douglas earned an associate’s degree from Hill College and a bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University in Stephenville. She would like to become a psychologist.
“I’ve still got to go back and finish my Ph.D., but that’s in the future,” Douglas said. “It’s a plan.”
Here are the questions and answers for Julia Douglas — mother, aspiring local politician; cupcake baker and, by her own description, a “noticer” of other people:
How would you describe your personality?
“Like most people, I have two completely different sides. One is the one that you see in the professional world as far as business and politics — which people never really saw until I became chairperson of Planning and Zoning. As far as the business side I’ve been told that I’m very professional, very proficient as far as how I run things. I’m extremely organized. That’s the only way I can make everything work. I try to be friendly and outgoing. I’m not naturally outgoing at all. I’m pretty quiet. I’m a noticer. I sit back and watch what’s happening. I try to be very open and honest. I have a reputation … I don’t sugar-coat a whole lot. I’m not ugly about it but if you ask me a question I’m going to give you the answer even if you don’t like what I have to say.”
Why did you want to get involved in the community?
“I was one of those people for a long time — one of those bury-your-head-in-the sand, everyone else will take care of it. But as I got older I realized that nobody else is going to do it for me. If I want to make a change, I have to get out there and do it myself because people can’t read my mind. You need to tell your officials what’s on your mind because we don’t know if you don’t tell us. So that mentality was kind of why I started paying attention to what was going on in the community and then I started going to meetings and just trying to figure what the heck was going on. At that time I had small kids and I knew that the things that were going on in our city … they were ultimately going to affect my kids. I wanted to help Glen Rose be, for my kids, what it was for me.”
Why did you apply to be on the P&Z board?
“Because it was a stepping stone to getting out there and getting known and getting my foot in the door with the community. That way I can head for city council or head for county commissioner. But when I actually got into it, I (thought) this is really interesting. So when city council came around this last time, I decided not to run because I thought my skill set was better where it was — with planning and zoning than with city council.”
What do feel like are your strengths working on the P&Z board?
“Planning and zoning deals specifically with the subdivision regulations and the zoning regulations. I have both construction experience — and I understand kind of how all that works — but I also have legal experience because I was in law for 10 years (as a paralegal) before I took over in construction. So I not only understand the construction side of it, I understand the legal side of it. I can read the legal mumbo-jumbo.”
What was the experience like when you ran for City Council?
“I kind of put the cart before the horse, and I jumped in with both feet and I immediately ran for city council. I didn’t do anything else before that. I didn’t work up to it like most people do. I just said OK I’m going to do this and if I win I win, if I don’t I don’t — I get the experience.
“I had to work hard at it. Every speech I gave, I was shaking. I could barely even remember what I said. It was a scary experience, but I knew that it was important so I went out there and did it anyway. The majority of my campaign was done online. I didn’t do a whole lot of hand shaking, but I did speak before some groups, I did go to all the meetings and I did get involved.”
Has your experience on the board been more difficult than you expected?
“It’s a lot more research than I expected it to be. But it’s a lot more interesting than I ever expected it to be. I never realized all of the intricacies that were involved with that sort of thing. The whole thing … I really enjoy it — much to my surprise. I didn’t think I would enjoy it.”
Do you have time for hobbies?
“I love to bake. And I’m actually quite talented at it, if you ask anyone that ever comes to our parties. I do that every chance I get, which is difficult because we try to live a healthy lifestyle and we try to work out and try to eat right. But when you have six dozen chocolate cupcakes sitting on the counter …”
What is your next goal?
“I plan on running for city council. Probably next year. But ultimately I would like to be a county commissioner. That’s kind of my end goal, at some point.”
Twenty years from now, do you see yourself running for an even higher office?
“I don’t. My focus has shifted a little. I’m still absolutely interested in helping people. But I think that I would make a better impact helping people at the level that I am now.”