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Government/Politics

Watched By Home Crowd, SA’s Newest Senator Takes Office

030415_Menendez_swearing_in.jpg
Ryan E. Poppe
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Hundreds of people were on hand Wednesday at the State Capitol to witness the swearing in of San Antonio’s newest Senator, Democrat José Menéndez.

A crowd gathered in the chamber of the Texas Senate quickly became a who’s who of San Antonio officials, past and present, all in Austin to be part of Menendez’s move from the House to the Senate. He spent  14 years serving San Antonio in the Texas House.

The oath was administered by San Antonio Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia and the ceremony was moderated by Menendez’ close friend, now Senate colleague, Carlos Uresti. “The judge was reminding me to tell Sen. Menéndez that he’s still only going to get paid $600 in the Senate, [just] as he did in the House. Congratulations Sen. Menendez and welcome to the Texas Senate,” Uresti told the crowd.

Menéndez hadn’t even taken office before he was handed a list of committee assignments. He’ll serve on the Senate’s Higher Education, Intergovernmental Relations and Criminal Jurisprudence committees. But as far as his legislative priorities go, the freshman senator is hoping his colleagues will focus on funding public education before rushing to provide tax relief.

File Photo - José Menéndez. Last June, Menéndez carried legislation that would require Texas public schools to include the history of the Holocaust in curriculum.
Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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San Antonio Democratic Sen. Jose Menendez

“In addition to that, our retired teachers have not had a cost of living increase in the last 20 years, and our teachers in the classroom are being paid less than the national average. We have a lot of work to do on that issue. We got a lot of work to do in securing the future of the infrastructure of this growing state, so you know there is a lot of work, there are a lot of things the state has to take care of before we can talk about making cuts in areas where some people haven’t even asked for them,” Menéndez added.

Menéndez succeeds Leticia Van De Putte, who is running for mayor of San Antonio.