The text of the release: “In our family, public service is the highest calling. While other public service may lie ahead, I will not run for the Texas Senate in 2010. During each day of the last decade, we have endeavored to do our very best for the people of our great community and state. In public life, especially in Texas during this decade, doing what’s right, not what’s expedient is what matters. I am grateful to the people who elected me for the opportunity to serve.” A press conference is scheduled for noon today at Shapleigh’s district office in El Paso. * * * * Shapleigh’s departure will surely touch off a wild scramble to succeed him. The legislative delegation is Norma Chavez, Marissa Marquez, Chente Quintanilla, Joe Pickett, and Joe Moody. Chavez is probably the best placed of the group. She has been around for awhile, and she has grass roots support. Moody and Marquez are freshman legislators. Quintanilla is one of the least effective members in the House. Pickett is able but flubbed his big chance to pass a decent transportation bill. The local business community is beside itself over the ineffectiveness of the delegation as a whole. Their top priority was funding a new building at the local branch of the Texas Tech medical school. They got nada. The next goal is to authorize the local branch of the med school to have its own president, so that it will have the same status as the one in Lubbock rather than remaining a stepchild. In the long run, the El Paso tail is going to end up wagging the Lubbock dog, because El Paso is a much bigger city than Lubbock with a much more diverse patient base. I can’t imagine that Woody Hunt, Paul Foster, and other business leaders are going to sit back and let Norma Chavez be elected senator. Mayor John Cook is a possible choice. Shapleigh played an important role in the Senate, but it was not one that served his local community well. He chose to be a gadfly, who saw his job as shining a spotlight on the shortcomings of the Republican majority and state leadership. His research and published criticism have done a great deal to bring the shortcomings of state government to light, but they cost him good committee appointments. He had little to look forward to except more of the same. I will let Shapleigh have the last word in reviewing his career, from his press release: First elected in 1996, Shapleigh spearheaded the creation of the El Paso Medical School—the first new medical school in the US in 30 years. In the early 90’s, working with Judge Marquez and others, he brought attention to dramatic underfunding of Texas Border communities, then crafted innovative laws to create the Regional Mobility Authority, move people and products faster and safer across international borders, and fund $1b in infrastructure money to complete El Paso’s outer loop. In 2001, he established the “International Intelligent Transportation Center” in El Paso, to research and promote state of the art technology solutions to safer, smarter mobility. From 2000, to date, working with regional state, federal and municipal leaders, he led the fight to stop ASARCO’s 7,000 air permit, remediate and redevelop what is one of America’s most contaminated sites. Over the last decade, Senator Shapleigh co-founded “Community Scholars’, a nationally recognized youth leadership program to build a new generation of ethical regional leaders, and worked across business and governmental agencies to promote the first County Ethics Commission in Texas. More recently, he and other community leaders launched “Invest in the American Dream” a community wide effort to build financial literacy and entrepreneurial expertise. In the Senate, he authored or sponsored over 400 bills and resolutions. As Senate BRAC chair, he passed laws to promote Texas’ military value, and worked hard to increase troops, funding and new programs across Texas’ 18 military installations—including historic growth at Ft. Bliss and Ft. Sam Houston. Early on, as a member of the CHIP conference committee, he worked to add 300,000 children across Texas to quality health care. For his work on CHIP, he received the Hannah Solomon Award in El Paso. For his work on “Texas On Line” and laptops in schools, he was named a “Visionary Technology Innovator” by the Center for Digital Government. In 2001, the American School Health Association, named him national “Legislator of the Year” for his pioneering work to combat obesity among young Texans in public schools. During the Sensenbrenner hearings on immigration, when Texas lawmakers were barred from testifying in Congressional field hearings, Shapleigh organized the City of El Paso to pass a ‘common sense resolution on immigration reform’, then fought and beat every extreme and harmful immigration measure in the Texas Senate. For his work, he was given the “Matt Garcia-Public Official of the Year’ by MALDEF. Consistently a strong, clear voice for better schools, rigorous curriculum, competitive universities, and quality 21st education, in the contentious debates of 2003—2005, Senator Shapleigh worked to improve school funding formulas, make the Texas tax system more fair, and bring Texas teachers to national pay standards. For his work, he was named “Conscience of the Senate” by Texas Monthly, “Texas Classroom Advocate of the Year” by the Classroom Teachers Association and “Texas Education Leader” by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce. His work on improving funding equity for all Texas schoolchildren earned him the “Champion for Children’ award from the Texas Equity Center. In the Texas Senate, he is the recognized expert on cutting edge, evidence based bilingual education programs. He is the Senate’s lead voice on improving financial literacy and his fight to rein in predatory lenders whose annual interest rates now exceed 1100% has gained national recognition As a member of the Texas Sunset Commission he wrote the Texas Higher Education Sunset bill to require performance measure reports of Texas’ 35 universities to improve value to students, transparency to parents and graduation rates as low as 3.8%. Last session, he worked hard to establish more Tier One Universities in Texas, and to create a ‘competitive, transparent’ process for all seven emerging Tier One universities. In October in Ft. Worth, the National Association of Social Workers—Texas Chapter will honor him as “Texas Legislator of the Year” for his determined fight for better schools, quality heath care, and improving tax equity in Texas.
Politics & Policy