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Retiring legislators honored at luncheon
Allen Mayor Steve Terrell, right, presents state Sen. Florence Shapiro and state Rep. Jerry Madden with keys to the city. - Kelsey Kruzich / Staff photo
Madden, Shapiro step down after decades in public office
As state Sen. Florence Shapiro and state Rep. Jerry Madden enter their final months in office, various groups and organizations have bestowed honors upon the longtime state legislators.
The latest to do so was the Plano Chamber of Commerce, which honored both at its quarterly luncheon Wednesday at Collin College's Spring Creek Campus.
Current and former elected officials took turns thanking the two for decades of service to constituents.
"The unique thing about both of these two people is they are outstanding conservatives and have done an outstanding job in Austin," said Allen Mayor Steve Terrell. "They have always had an open-door policy ... and have always listened."
Shapiro, a former teacher who has served in the state senate since 1993, was praised for her hard work on the state's school accountability and funding measures.
"[Because of her work] with us, we produced the first report card for higher education in the state of Texas, before it was required," said Dr. Cary Israel, president of Collin College. "... We thank her for having us do the right thing in terms of transparency and accountability. Deep down in her heart, she is an educator."
Current Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, a former Plano resident, said she was proud to call Shapiro a close friend. The two women met in 1974 and were founding members of the club now known as the Junior League of Collin County.
Dickey called Shapiro a natural leader who was able to successfully balance the job of being a full-time mother of three with her duties as an elected official. She also said Collin County residents are lucky to have officials such as Shapiro and Madden representing them.
"You all don't realize what you have here in Collin County," Dickey said. "You have a clean government and a conservative government. You have people who are politically active and are not apathetic."
Madden, who began representing portions of Plano and Allen in 1993, was given credit for his bipartisan efforts to reform the state correctional system.
Cynthia Wheless, 366th District Court Judge, oversees Collin County's juvenile justice system. She credited the West Point graduate for his work with juvenile offenders, noting that other states have modeled their juvenile justice systems after the one implemented under Madden's leadership.
"In the area of juvenile justice reform, Rep. Madden's leadership as chairman of the corrections committee is unparalleled," Wheless said. "... Under his guidance [Texas] took a broken system ... and replaced it with something that was smaller government, less money and more rehabilitation."
In a video message, House Speaker Joe Strauss also praised the work Madden has done in the Texas House.
"Jerry, you have given so much to your country and so much to your community through both the public and private sectors, through the U.S. Army, a successful business, and certainly through the Texas House," Strauss said. "... You have been a recognized leader in bringing innovative and forward-looking reforms to our criminal justice system that put the safety of our citizens first, while also controlling our prison population."
Plano Mayor Phil Dyer said both Shapiro and Madden have done more for their communities than just representing them in Austin. He pointed to Madden's work as president of the Collin County School Board, as well as Shapiro's work on the Plano City Council and with the Junior League.
"They have been great supporters of our community in many ways besides being stellar elected officials," Dyer said. "These two exceptional people are what the phrase 'public servant' really means. We have been most fortunate to have them working for us for all these years."
Shapiro and Madden will officially end their terms in office when new senators and representatives are sworn into office in January. Madden will be replaced by Plano resident Jeff Leach, while Shapiro's replacement will not be determined until Election Day. Republican Ken Paxton, Democrat Jack Ternan and Libertarian Ed Kless are vying for her seat.