Leadership

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Joe represents the 22nd Legislative District, which includes parts of Jefferson and Orange Counties. He is an attorney, businessman and life-long resident of Beaumont. Deshotel has been married for 31 years to the former Claudia Darjean of Opelousas, La. He is the father of W. Joseph Deshotel.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, Deshotel served on the Beaumont City Council and was appointed by Governor Mark White to the Job Training Coordinating Council and Lamar University Board of Regents. He organized Lamar University’s first NAACP chapter and helped rename the former Spur 380 to Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. He also served as vice president for administration and legal counsel of Lamar University-Beaumont.

He is a graduate from Lamar University and received his law degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. His long career of public service began as a member of the Beaumont city council and he was first elected to the 76th state legislature in 1998.

After the end of the 76th Legislative Session, the Legislative Study Group, the largest caucus in the state, presented Deshotel with the Rising Star Award. The award was given to only three representatives of the 25-member freshman class and is given to honor their outstanding dedication and achievement.

In the 77th Legislative Session, his colleagues in the Texas Legislative Black Caucus elected him chairman.

In the 78th Legislative Session, Deshotel served on the House Appropriations Committee which is the budget writing arm of the House. He also served as the vice chair of local & consent calendars, the chairman of budget oversight for the House Elections Committee and on the select committee on state health care expenditures.

In the 79th Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to the House Committees on Economic Development, on Transportation and on Redistricting.

In the 80th Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to serve as chairman of the House Economic Development Committee.

“Being named chairman of economic development committee is important for East Texas,” Deshotel said. “This committee assignment ensures that job creation and the increased vitalization of the local technology industry receive proper attention during the legislative process.”

In the 81st Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to serve as chairman of the House Business and Industry Committee a post he continues to hold today.


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Lon Burnam, a resident of Tarrant County since 1953, attended Fort Worth I.S.D. schools and graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors Degree in Government. He earned his Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Burnam has served in the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 90 in Fort Worth since 1997. Rep. Burnam currently serves on the House Environmental Regulation and Homeland Security and Public Safety Committees. Previously, Burnam served on the Elections, Pensions and Investments, Insurance, and Urban Affairs Committees. He is Vice Chair of the Legislative Study Group, Co-Chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, as well as an active member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. Burnam also serves on the Advisory Board of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Burnam’s legislative work focuses on consumer issues, anti-discrimination, fair taxation, energy, and the environment.

Some of the awards Representative Burnam has received include: the 2000 Racial Justice and Reconciliation Award given by the Tarrant Area Community of Churches; REACH, Inc.’s ADA award for disability advocacy in 2000; and the “Millennium Conservation Award” from the Texas Committee on Natural Resources in 1999. Burnam was the recipient of the 1997 “New Leadership for the Environment” Award from the Texas Chapter of the Sierra Club, which is given to an outstanding freshman legislator who displays leadership in protecting the environment. Also in 1997, Representative Burnam was named “Best Public Official” by the Fort Worth Weekly. Rep. Burnam received the Texas Surfrider Foundation’s 2003 “Keeper of the Coast” award.

Prior to being chosen by the voters of District 90, Burnam worked as a city planner helping community organizations and local residents in efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and create new economic opportunities. In the mid-1980′s, Burnam served as a Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator of the Texas Department of Human Services. He has served on numerous community boards and agencies.

Burnam is currently a consultant for organizations promoting civil rights and pluralism. He has been married to Carol Roark since 1979. They purchased a 1913 wood frame bungalow in the Fairmont neighborhood of Fort Worth in 1981, where, together with their three cats, they make their home today.


chris turner

In November 2012, Chris Turner was elected to serve the people of District 101 in the Texas House of Representatives.

Located entirely in Tarrant County, the rapidly growing and diverse District 101 includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie. The district also includes Arlington and Mansfield Independent School Districts. Major employers in the area include the local school districts, the University of Texas at Arlington, General Motors, and Tarrant County College.

As a member of the Legislature, Chris is committed to working on a bipartisan basis on the issues important to Texas families. Chris’s priorities include expanding opportunity for all Texans to have access to good jobs, quality schools and affordable health care and protecting the civil rights and workers rights of all Americans.

During his first legislative session in 2009, Chris passed significant pieces of legislation including the landmark law establishing a dedicated lottery scratch off ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance, which generates up to $9 million per year to pay for much-needed benefits for Texas veterans and their families. Chris also wrote the law that requires electric utility companies to notify consumers when their contract is about to expire.

His work on veterans’ issues led to Chris being named “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, “Legislator of the Year” by the Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Texas State Council and the bi-partisan Legislative Veterans’ Caucus’s “Freshman of the Year.” He was also given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.

In addition, Chris was named “Freshman of the Year” by Texas Watch for his work on consumer protection issues and “Best of the House” by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).

As a state Representative, Chris’s primary focus will be to attend to the needs of his constituents and district. During his first term, he attended hundreds of community meetings and hosted several town halls and seminars to provide constituents with information on how to pay for college, lower utility bills and receive veterans’ benefits.

A lifelong Texan, Chris graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. Not long after graduation, Chris moved to Fort Worth, where he met his future wife, Lisa. Lisa and Chris were married in 1999. Chris’s two stepchildren, Melissa and Scott Hunsaker, both graduated from Summit High School in Mansfield ISD.


roberto alonzo

Roberto R. Alonzo was officially sworn in to start his eighth 2-year term as a Texas State Representative for House District 104 on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, having been first elected in November 1992, starting his first term during the 73rd Regular Session in 1993. When he was first elected, Rep. Alonzo made history by becoming the first Mexican American from North Texas elected to the Legislature, outdistancing his opponent by a 2 to 1 margin with over 66% percent of the vote.

In addition to his legislative duties, civic affairs, and active political involvement in the community, Rep. Alonzo is an attorney by profession. A former migrant worker born and raised in Crystal City, Texas, in a family of 11 siblings, he graduated from Crystal City High School where he also served as his Student Body President and worked summers and after school in the town’s legal aid center. In 1973, he sat on the Crystal City Independent School District Board of Trustees as a Student Representative. This active involvement as a young teen was the first sign that later encouraged him to pursue a career as an attorney. At the encouragement of his high school teachers, he left the small south Texas town to pursue an undergraduate degree at UT-Austin on an academic scholarship graduating with a B.A. degree in 1980. From there, he continued his law studies at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston where he obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1984. Rep. Alonzo is currently a self-practitioner and small business owner in Dallas where he specializes in criminal law.

In addition to his law practice, he is actively involved in a number of community affairs in the Dallas metroplex area. A former Board Member of both the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART), he has also served as an active Board Member of Hispanic PAC/USA in Washington, D.C. and the Mexican American Bar Association. He is also an active member of the Democratic Party, having served in a number of significant capacities at the local, state, and national levels, including precinct chair several times as well as on the Executive Committee at both the state and national party levels. Rep. Alonzo has served as both state and national delegate to a number of party conventions as well. He has been a key organizer and coordinator for a number of notable local, state and national/congressional campaigns, including both State Chair and National Co-Chair of the “Adelante Con Clinton” Campaign, organized to maximize the Latino vote in the country. as well as the Southwest Voter Registration & Education Project (SWVREP). Additionally, Rep. Alonzo is a former Assistant Texas Attorney General, Legislative Aide in the Texas Senate, state employee with the Texas Department of Human Resources, and paralegal for both the Texas Rural Legal Aid Clinic and the Oficina de la Gente Legal Aid Clinic, which provide free pro bono legal services to low-income families.

Rep. Alonzo is married to the former Sylvana Avila, also of Crystal City. They have three children: Roberto, Jr.; Maria Xiomara; and, Jose Maria Emeterio.


donna howar

A seasoned professional with years of hands-on experience in the areas of public health and public education, State Representative Donna Howard’s policy experatise and leadership skills have earned her a place at the center of the growing effort to champion mainstream values in the Texas legislature. Howard serves on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Higher Education Committee; additionally, she serves as vice chair of the House Administration Committee. She serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (Agencies of Education) and the Subcommittee on Budget Transparency and Reform. The Representative previously served as vice chair of the House Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee and as a member of the House Technology Committee. For her work at the State Capitol on health care, education, environmental protection, and historic preservation, Howard has been honored by community and state organizations, from the Austin Business Journal and the Texas Hospital Association to the Texas Parent-Teacher Association, the Sierra Club and the Heritage Society of Austin. She also has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumna of both The University of Texas School of Nursing and The University of Texas Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. Howard is a native of Austin who graduated from Reagan High School, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in health education, both from the University of Texas. She worked as a critical care nurse at Brackenridge and Seton hospitals, was the first hospital-based Patient Education Coordinator in Austin, and helped start the Seton Good Health School. She has also served as president of the Texas Nurses’ Association (District 5) and as a Health Education instructor at UT. A recognized expert on public education, Howard was elected to the Eanes ISD board in West Austin, where she served from 1996 to 1999 and was certified as a Master School Trustee by the Texas Association of School Boards. She co-founded the parent organization Advocates for Eanes Schools and helped form the Texas Education Crisis Coalition, a grassroots group of parents, business owners and community leaders working together to tackle the public school finance issue. Howard has previously served on the boards of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, Common Cause, the Texas Freedom Network and the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. She is currently a board member of the Expanding Horizons Foundation, supporting low-income housing and education. Married to Austin attorney Derek Howard, Representative Howard is the mother of three adult children and is active in her neighborhood and church communities.


Representative Jessica Farrar is currently in her 9th term as State Representative of District 148. She was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1994 at the age of 27, and she is the longest serving Hispanic member from Harris County in the Texas House of Representatives. Rep. Farrar currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Environmental Regulation and a member of the House Committee of Border and Intergovernmental Affairs. Past assignments have included the Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Land and Resource Management, House Committees on State Affairs, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Corrections, County Affairs, Agriculture and Livestock, and Appropriations. In addition, Representative Farrar serves as Leader of the House Democratic Caucus, and is the founder and Vice-Chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. She previously served as Secretary of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) and Vice-Chair of the Legislative Study Group (LSG). Representative Farrar works extensively on issues related to the environment, women’s health, children’s healthcare, education, taxes, homeowner rights, homeland and border security, domestic violence, sexual assault, reproductive rights, insurance coverage, transportation, discrimination, and criminal and juvenile justice. Rep. Farrar grew up in Houston. She received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Houston and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Texas School of Law. She is married to Lieutenant Colonel Marco Sanchez, who is a practicing attorney. They live in Houston’s Lindale Park neighborhood with their dogs, Cricket and Possum.

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