FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2008
The recent interim appointment of Commissioner Esperanza "Hope" Andrade to chair the Texas Transportation Commission reflects not only this leader's talents, but the ever-growing diversity of this state.
The Governor appointed Ms. Andrade to replace the late Chairman Ric Williamson, who died in December. While I regret this great loss for Texas, I applaud the Governor's decision and offer my support to our interim Chair.
One of the principal reasons we have a Hispanic woman from South Texas on this Commission is a bill I passed in 2003 that expanded the membership of this body from three to five members. Until then, only one woman and two Hispanics had ever served on what was first called the Highway Commission when formed in 1917. Of the approximately 61 Commission members, only two are known to have been from the border region and two from West Texas. Diverse representation that included the different regions of the state was almost non-existent.
At the time I filed the bill, I felt, as did many of my colleagues, that one of the benefits the state would derive from this type of legislation was to increase the Commission's regional diversity and expertise. Ms. Andrade's membership and now interim appointment stand as testimonials of this effort.
Other benefits of this expansion that will serve the San Antonio resident in her capacity, as well as the other Commissioners, are that the Commission's effectiveness and internal communications were increased, and the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) business could now be discussed without the possibility of two members violating the Open Meetings Act. When only three members comprised the group, two members constituted a quorum.
Serving on the Texas Transportation Commission is challenging and demanding, so facilitating its operations was a priority I strongly adhered to. We kept approximately the same ratio of urban to rural appointments--from one of three to two of five.
The state of Texas has entrusted a Commission that manages billions of dollars a year and must meet the demands of the rapid expansion of the state's population to Ms. Andrade, as well as to the rest of the members.
The Transportation Commission, of which Ms. Andrade has been a member since December 2003, must seek solutions to TxDOT's funding crisis, toll roads, and our push for the I-69 Trans Texas Corridor that would connect the Rio Grande Valley to the rest of the state via a long-overdue interstate.
The transportation task at hand is not simple, but I trust that Chair Andrade's vision and leadership will move us toward completion of many goals and renew our once strong system of highways and bridges. And I also trust that the regional, ethnic and gender diversity Chair Andrade has brought to the Commission will set Texas on the right track to the needs of the 21st Century.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.