Residents of The Woodlands and other parts of Texas’ 8th Congressional District who want to speak to their U.S. representative may be surprised at how often they have seen Rep. Kevin Brady in the community, said J.J. Hollie, the president of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I consider ourselves to be very fortunate to have someone with that amount of national prominence that is local and with us, and when I say with us, I see him at the grocery store; I see him at the Y[MCA],” Hollie said.

Brady served as president of the local chamber from 1985-96, when it was called the South Montgomery Woodlands Chamber of Commerce. Although he has been the U.S. representative for District 8 since 1997, Brady has continued to live in The Woodlands, he said, with his two sons attending public schools in Conroe ISD.

“As a family, we’re like everyone else,” Brady said in a Nov. 18 phone interview. “Our life is dictated by our kids; we love to barbecue, to ride bikes. I love baseball, [and] I still play on the congressional baseball team. With the time I have we get to lead pretty normal lives.”

Unlike most residents, however, Brady has logged 2.5 million commuting miles between the Houston area and Washington, D.C., since he took office in 1997.

“That means I’m on my sixth round trip to the moon, commuting,” Brady said. “That helps me to stay normal [and] stay in the community. ... People talk to me at the grocery store, at the dry cleaners. ... It’s really been key for me.”

Brady won election to his 13th term Nov. 3. During his time in office, Brady has served as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee from 2015-19, and he continues to serve as a member of that board. Brady also served as a negotiator for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and he said addressing the economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be a focus in 2021.

“The good news is that we have gained back more than half the jobs we have lost and almost two-thirds of the economy is in remarkable recovery, but we’re not out of it yet,” Brady said. “We need a second round of [Paycheck Protection Program] funds to help our small businesses. We need more help for midsized businesses as well as reconnecting airline workers. My top priority is defeating the virus and helping people get to work.”

Early life

Tragic events early in his life contributed to Brady’s decision to pursue a political career, he said.

“I grew up in the black hills of South Dakota, and there were five of us. ... My family was always involved in the community,” Brady said. “My father was shot to death in a courtroom shooting when I was 12, and my mom in her 30s was left to raise us by herself.”

Brady said his mother’s lessons to him to think independently, be optimistic and give back to the community influenced his future choices.

“After college I chose chamber of commerce work ... because you work with the best leaders of every community to help start small businesses, to build roads and libraries and schools and hospitals, and to recruit new businesses to the area.”

Hollie said Brady has helped to guide the chamber’s development.

“I think he has set the tone that our chamber should be very active in policies and legislation that affected our business community not only locally, but regionally, statewide and nationally,” Hollie said.

Hollie said the chamber staff was able to provide input as Brady worked on CARES Act legislation.

Move to The Woodlands

When Brady moved to The Woodlands from his previous employment in Beaumont in 1985, he said the population was only about 16,000, and he was 30 years old. Along the way, he married his wife, Cathy, 28 years ago, and they have two sons.

The eldest, Will, 22, went to College Park High School and Lone Star College for a welding certificate. His other son, Sean, 18, goes to College Park and is involved in programs such as the JROTC and the National FFA Organization chapter.

Being part of a family with high visibility can be challenging for the family, but he said he feels support from the community.

“Politics ... can be rough, [but] for the most part we live in the community and in the county where people are very respectful, and even when they disagree, it’s always respectful, and ... we can tackle these differences and still be agreeable,” he said. Looking ahead to 2021, Brady said the pandemic will guide many pieces of legislation.

“The very exciting news is that we will have safe, effective vaccines very soon,” he said. “We need to make sure we have our health care institutions, our hospitals, our schools, our day care, have the funding they need as we work our way out of this pandemic.”