After four decades of serving Gregg County, first in the Sheriff’s Department and most recently as county commissioner, John Mathis is stepping aside.
While he enjoyed his work in both offices, he said, “I feel like my time is up. I love my employees, that’s number one. When we work here, we work as a family. I enjoyed coming to work, helping the people and talking to people.”
It’s the people – his employees –he will miss the most as he retires Dec. 31. It was the people who were the most important to him as they acquired new equipment and completed projects throughout Precinct 4.
“Number one, we start as a family,” he said. “I’m a family man, and when you come to work, you just want to feel free… We had a safety meeting once a month; we sit back and talk. I let everybody talk to see what we need to do or what kind of progress we need to make. Like I always tell my employees, the boss is not always right. Your employees can make you or break you. You can take advice from anybody. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t make you right, and I believe in that. Because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you know everything; you can always take suggestions from your employees like anybody else.”
County officials and workers joined family members and friends at the Precinct 4 offices on South Martin Luther King Boulevard in Kilgore for a joint party to celebrate Christmas and Mathis’ retirement.
“I love all of y’all and I appreciate all of y’all… From the bottom of my heart, if it wasn’t for y’all, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mathis told the crowd gathered Thursday in the Pct. 4 road and bridge building.
Mathis’ retirement comes in the middle of the last year of his third term in the post.
“I feel like my time is up, and just let someone else move in,” he said.
When it came time to make his decision, he said, his grandkids were a major factor as they continue their high school careers.
“I never had time to spend with them,” he said, noting his time commitments to the county. “Now I’m spending time with my grandkids and going to games and golf for me; that’s my main hobby.”
Before spending 11 years as county commissioner, Mathis spent decades in the Gregg County Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s the reason I got involved in law enforcement and is very inspirational… I appreciate you,” Mathis’ twin brother, James, said. “He’s devoted his life to Gregg County.
“He’s the reason I got involved in law enforcement and is very inspirational… I appreciate you. He’s devoted, like Sheriff said, his life to Gregg County.”
James Mathis, who is running for re-election for his post as Gregg County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace, had a plaque made for his older brother that reads. “Big brother leadership.”
“I look up to him, I thank God for him, and may God bless y’all for participating and being a part of this,” he said, presenting the plaque to his brother.
Noting the crowd gathered in the Pct. 4 road and bridge building, Sheriff Maxey Cerliano recognized John Mathis’ work.
“We’ve been together for a long time. He’s been with a lot of you in this room for a long time because he has committed his whole adult life to serving the citizens of Gregg County in one capacity or the other,” Cerliano said. “Almost 30 years in law enforcement and to complete his career as commissioner… He’s a friend of law enforcement; he’s been our friend; he’s been a friend to the community because if you ask John to do something for you, he’s going to do everything he can to get it done.”
One thing, Mathis said he hopes his successor continues, is the relationship he has with his employees.
“Take care of your employees, and don’t let that job title go to your head: ‘I’m the commissioner, I’m the boss’… Just treat people fair. Treat people the way you want to be treated. We have a good set up. My guys know what to do; my superintendents know what to do. We are well organized… One thing I taught my guys: Don’t worry about what he can do; just worry about what you’re doing.”