Robert Edmonson Jr. walks to work from his home on Capitol Hill and enjoys the convenient, fast-paced and art-centric nature of Washington, D.C. But he misses some of the pleasures of his hometown — Harker Heights.
“I loved Texas Roadhouse,” Edmonson said. “You cannot get anything better than those rolls in the honey butter. I came up to D.C., and realized no one knows what chicken-fried steak is, which is such a disappointment.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promoted Edmonson, 28, from legislative director to chief of staff May 15, a news release stated. Monday was his first day on the job.
“It’s very busy,” Edmonson said. “You’re working around the clock to see what’s going on in the nation, around the world, and how you can impact people.”
Edmonson spends his 12-hour days calling and meeting with constituents, working on issues, such as preventing child abuse, averting furloughs and stopping gun violence in San Francisco.
“For the past six years, Robert has been a strong advocate and tireless voice for high-speed rail in the state of California and on behalf of the issues impacting the people of San Francisco,” Pelosi said in a news release. “I know Robert will bring his dedication, intellect, and passion to the table on behalf of my constituents.”
Although Edmonson represents Californians, he still connects with Texas, coming home every year for summer and Christmas.
“Every time I’m (in Heights), it’s exploding,” Edmonson said. “When you go across the highway, they’ve got the Target and the movie theater. I get confused by the new on-ramps.”
He grew up on Antelope Trail when Heights was smaller, graduating from Harker Heights High School in 2003. His mother, Tamra Stansbury, was a teacher at Mountain View Elementary School. His father, Robert Edmonson Sr., is retiring from Copperas Cove ISD after 20 years, the last four worked as executive director of business services.
Edmonson Jr. participated in the church youth group at Temple’s Canyon Creek Church of Christ, played bassoon and percussion in the high school band and won state awards as captain of the debate team. Former Congressman Chet Edwards appointed him to study and work as a congressional clerk during his junior and senior years, and then 9/11 struck shortly after he arrived in Washington. It was a life-altering event, he said.
“It was scary, but it brought me very close to the people I was around at the time,” Edmonson said. “It was interesting to see Congress and the nation come together.”
In the months that followed, he saw live debates on the Patriot Act.
“It was democracy in action, up close and personal,” he said. Being a clerk “was one of the best experiences I’ve had. I went to school in the mornings in the Library of Congress and worked at night in the House.”
Edmonson graduated from Texas A&M in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, after interning for Edwards in the most saturated Republican Congressional district represented by a Democrat.
For three summers during college, Edmonson taught disadvantaged children about Jesus at a camp in Marble Falls. “He gave a lot of inner-city kids love who probably didn’t get much love,” his mother said.
In his spare time, Edmonson watches dramas and reads nonfiction. The last book he read examined the national financial crisis.
“When he reads books, I just look up, impressed that he would even want to read them,” Stansbury said.
The House of Representatives hired Edmonson as a staff assistant in November 2007. For six years, he ascended through aide and policy adviser positions to become chief of staff.
“I am kind of in awe of the whole thing,” Stansbury said. “My family were pretty much Texans and stay in Texas, and the fact that he would venture out and rise to great heights is not what crossed my mind way back when.”
Father-son trips to Washington when Edmonson Jr. was a youngster piqued his interest in politics, said Stansbury, 57. Working in the Capitol cemented his career plan.
“I think politics has a great ability to help your community, help fellow people, and make sure kids grow up in a safe neighborhood,” Edmonson said. “The ability to fight for and accomplish those things is an incredible experience.”