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IIAT Members Campaign for Seats in the Texas House of Representatives



Wouldn’t it be great to have more of IIAT members in the Texas Legislature? This election cycle, we’re hoping IIAT can pick up two new seats in the Texas House and maintain the one we’ve held since 2017. Here’s who is running and a little more about them and their campaigns:

State Rep. Cole Hefner

State Representative Cole Hefner
Hefner Group Insurance (Tyler, Longview, Marshall, Mineola, Holly Lake Ranch)

State Representative Hefner has served in the Texas Legislature since 2017. Prior to his time in the Texas House, Cole served as an Upshur County Commissioner. Before that, he was active in his local republican party as a precinct chair.

Cole had a successful career in the construction business that spanned 16 years. While pondering a career change, he attended a local rotary event in 2010 and met an agent who co-owned a life & health agency. It would take some time to make the shift, but five years later, Cole joined the agency. Not long after, he jumped at the opportunity to shift into the property & casualty space and Hefner Group Insurance was born. Today, Hefner Group employs over 20 people in five locations.

Representative Hefner represents HD 5, which includes part of Smith County and all of Titus, Camp, Rains, Wood, and Upshur Counties. He has not faced much opposition since his first election in 2016, but this election cycle, he faces two primary challengers, one of whom he has beaten before.

Jeff Barry

Jeff Barry
Barry Insurance Agency (Pearland)

Jeff Barry is running for House District 29 in the Texas House of Representatives. This seat is currently held by Representative Ed Thompson, who announced last summer he would not be seeking re-election. HD 29 is in Brazoria County and includes the cities of Pearland, Manvel, Alvin and part of Freeport.

A resident of Pearland for roughly 25 years, Jeff has long served his community. Most recently, he was on the Pearland City Council, a post from which he had to recently resign to run for higher office. Prior to that he served for six years on the Pearland ISD Board of Trustees. He has championed public education and civic engagement while serving on many boards and committees with various Pearland groups, including the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, the Pearland Economic Development Corporation, the Pearland ISD Education Foundation, and the Northern Brazoria County Education Alliance.

After high school, Jeff enlisted in the military and served four years in the U.S. Navy as a Petty Officer, 3rd Class. During Desert Storm, he served as a technician responsible for repairing aviation electronics. After the military and college, Jeff worked as an electrical engineer for two different Fortune 500 companies in Houston for roughly 20 years. Wanting a change, he and his wife Charisse moved to Pearland and opened Barry Insurance, which has been in business for nearly 20 years. They specialize in commercial coverage for businesses in the oil and gas sector.

Trey Wharton

Trey Wharton
Wharton Insurance Network (Huntsville)

Trey Wharton is running for House District 12, which includes parts of Brazos County and all of Grimes, Walker, Madison, Washington, and Robertson Counties. The seat is currently held by State Representative Kyle Kacal, who decided not to seek re-election.

Trey was born and raised in Huntsville, which is the largest city in HD 12. He attended public school in Huntsville and graduated in 1985. Trey played college basketball for TCU (GoFrogs!) and earned a degree in finance. After college he returned to Huntsville to start his career. Trey started his career in the banking industry, but soon shifted to insurance when he opened Wharton Insurance Network in 1991. The agency specializes in personal home/auto, commercial, annuities, group benefits, flood, farm and ranch, and heavy equipment. Wharton Insurance Network has been an IIAT member since opening, and now, it’s a family business – his son Dickson works there as well.

In addition to running a successful small agency, Trey dedicates his time to his community. He served on the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees for six years and was the chair until January 2024 when he resigned to run for higher office. He also serves on the Huntsville Memorial Hospital Community Board of Directors. Trey previously served on and chaired the Huntsville Walker County Chamber of Commerce.

Trey has been married to his wife JoLynne for 33 years and they have two adult children. They also both have an affinity for classic cars. Trey recently completely restored his high school car, a powder blue 1967 Mustang & JoLynne has a red on red 1963 Corvette.

Please reach out to me anytime you have questions about IIAT government affairs or want to learn more about campaigns, races, or IMPACT. Our team is always available to help our valued IIAT members.

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Regan Ellmer

Director of Government Affairs

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NOTE: The Texas Ethics Commission has strict prohibitions on contributions and expenditures and forbids a corporation or labor organization from making a political contribution or political expenditure. Therefore, IIAT members wishing to make a contribution to IMPACT must do so with a personal or partnership contribution. Corporate contributions are prohibited by law.

“It's vital to our industry to give to IMPACT. That is why we encourage all our team to contribute. The state political process is something that affects our entire organization. Even the smallest donation can help.”“ Frank Swingle, Swingle Collins & Associates