The Everyman and His Relentless Pursuit of Individual Rights

“Just take it as it comes. Hold your ground and take it as it comes. There’s no other way.” 

~ Everyman by Phillip Roth

What stirs an ordinary, Christian man to extraordinary action, differs in each generation. We celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, who like others in our community, was inspired to take on perceived injustices wherever they might be found, and dreamed of a world where equity would reign through the hills and valleys of this land.

In our community, in similar fashion over 14 years ago, a  threat to his way of life from a small city government inspired Joe Trevino, Jr. to fight for a better Texas, regardless of the consequences. Like Roth’s man in the arena, who strives valiantly when others stand silent, Joe fights not only for his individual rights, but for those of his friends and neighbors. A Texan that stands with unwavering loyalty for causes he believes in, and those with whom he shares a common bond.

In 2004, when the Belton City Council thought it could outsmart Temple and Killeen, it began land grabs in earnest under its authority as a home rule city, by forcibly annexing land just outside the city boundaries. Publicly stating that the benefit of forced annexation is city “growth”, Belton City Council members continue with the same talking points today, even as the list of promises of extended municipal services, utility lines and road improvements to Joe and others annexed into the Belton City limits go unfulfilled.

Joe is one of hundreds of Bell County citizens, living on a trail of broken promises worn to his front door, by city governments with an appetite for land growth, without regard to the impact to those who are current city dwellers, and those who never wanted to live in a city. Whether he is calling out the Belton City Council for its continued application of a double standard for forced annexation practices, while claiming that fairness is not demonstrated by simply renaming streets after famous civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, or turning his anger into action to advocate for the end of forced annexation in Bell County, Joe is relentless in his pursuit of justice for every man and woman he encounters.

Notably, Joe often uses his own resources and skills to advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. As president of the Belton Concerned Citizen Alliance, Joe often helps elderly or low income citizens, ignored by government officials in ways that go unnoticed. As the chairperson of the newly formed group, Empower Bell County Texans, a group born of the recent City of Belton rush to grab land before increased protections under a new law went into effect, I am proud to have Joe as one of our members.

The strength of our group is the way we pulled together when faced with the prospect of Belton’s annexation appetite last fall.  The trials we faced only strengthened our resolve to change the law in Bell County.  And I firmly believe that Joe embodies those trials as described n the book of James, and that his maturity and perseverance are an invaluable contribution to the current fight to end forced annexation in our county forever. I believe that Martin Luther King, Jr would have been extraordinarily proud of Joe Trevino, Jr., an ordinary man with an extraordinary calling, as I am, and as all Texans should be.


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