R.I.P., Maury Meyers

This brief message will be of interest perhaps only to my friends in Beaumont, Texas. But I need to express some sadness today over news that a former mayor of the city where I lived and worked for nearly 11 years has died.

Maurice “Maury” Meyers served two stints as mayor of Beaumont — in the 1970s and again in the late 1980s. He was quite a visionary fellow who veered far from what I understand had been the norm for Southeast Texas politics.


A region that prides itself on homegrown talent and achievers welcomed this New York-born and bred Yankee into public life. Meyers obviously didn’t speak with that distinctive Southeast Texas combination of Texas drawl and Cajun inflection that is so common in a region I’ve referred to over the years as Baja Louisiana. No, he spoke the language of a New Yorker as he campaigned for public office and then made pronouncements from his mayoral bully pulpit.

Meyers sought always to promote Beaumont as a business-friendly city, which at times was a difficult sell in a region known to this day as a haven for plaintiffs seeking judgments against businesses. The region’s historically high membership in trade and crafts unions often was seen as an “anti-business.” Meyers sought to change that perception.

I think he succeeded to some degree.

Perhaps the apex of Meyers’s political career came when he challenged the late long-time U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks in 1990. Meyers ran as a Republican against the cantankerous Democratic lawmaker. Meyers lost, which was no surprise, given Brooks’s huge reservoir of support among African-Americans and union members. The newspaper where I worked, the Beaumont Enterprise, endorsed Meyers over Brooks — a decision we didn’t make lightly. Suffice to say it angered “Sweet Ol’ Brooks” greatly.

I respected Meyers greatly for the courage he showed in trying to reform what I thought then was a stagnant political culture.

He was a good man who fought like hell for the city and the region he adopted as his own.