The article, written by Garnet Coleman, originally appeared on Houston Chronicle.
I have served for more than 20 years in the Texas House with state Rep. Dennis Bonnen. He knows the Texas House, and I have confidence that he will serve the people of Texas well as the next speaker of the House. He understands the value of working hard, and keeps a pair of bronzed shoes that remind him of that everyday.
Bonnen has learned through more than two decades of experience that the best speakers are the ones who ensure each member gets the opportunity to represent his or her constituents via policy objectives throughout the legislative process.
Neither I nor anyone else will get every bill they want passed, but Bonnen will be the type of speaker who will allow each member to represent their constituents freely — and that is the most important thing a Speaker can do.
Bonnen is a conservative Republican and I’m a liberal Democrat, so we have inevitably butted heads on policy during our time in the House. However, that has never prevented him from acting honorably and listening to me or other members to try to reach the best policy outcomes for Texans.
He has already proven that he is listening to the members. In his first press conference as presumptive Speaker — he already has support from 109 representatives — Bonnen made it clear that the House’s top priority in the upcoming session will be to improve our public education system. Public education is a great place to start the 86th Legislature because it is a unifying goal that the whole House cares about, and I have always said education is the great equalizer.
As a sign of good faith, Bonnen has taken the unprecedented move of creating a working group that is equal parts Democratic and Republican to select a parliamentarian who will fairly enforce the rules of the House during legislative debate. That may sound like insider baseball, but it matters to the members of the House
Bonnen does not play games — he is a straight shooter. He will say what he means and will do what he says. He will defend the Texas House’s point of view as a strong independent body when working with the Texas Senate and Gov. Greg Abbott to put Texas first. He proved he could do this last session when he worked on behalf of the House to present a fair compromise to the property tax cap issue.
Now back to those bronzed shoes. Bonnen understands the value of hard work. In 1996, at the age of 24, he out-worked his opponents to win a 4-way primary race for an open seat for House District 25, southwest of Houston. He bronzed the shoes from that first campaign, which he must have walked miles in, knocking on thousands of doors to prove himself to his constituents. I am sure he keeps them to remind himself of his hard work that got him where he is now. When he got to the Texas House, he did not rest on his laurels. He continued to work hard for the people of his district. That hard work has served him well, and now I am confident that his hard work will serve the people of Texas and the members of the Texas House well.
I support Bonnen for speaker of the Texas House because he will create an environment where every member can represent their constituents, he will defend the House’s point of view, and he will work hard to put Texans first.
Coleman, a Democrat, is the representative for state House District 147.