Texas state Sen. Tommy Williams came to Canyon to take part in an interesting event put on by the Texas Tribune, but offered a comparison that I cannot let pass without some comment.
Williams, a Republican from the Houston area, was on hand at West Texas A&M University to honor state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee and state Sen. Kel Seliger, all Amarillo Republicans. He joked about how jealous he is that the three of them get along so well, unlike his colleagues in Southeast Texas, who — according to Williams — don’t enjoy the same level of legislative collegiality.
The reference drew some laughs in the packed room at the Jack B. Kelley Student Center. The Tribune’s editor in chief and CEO Evan Smith moderated a discussion with the three legislators, grilling them with questions about the state of the state, water planning, infrastructure development, taxes, education … the whole range of issues.
Back to Williams’s brief expression of envy …
Of course Smithee, Price and Seliger get along. They’re all from the same party and they all represent constituencies that look virtually identical. They’re three peas in a pod, triplets, if you prefer.
Williams, however, represents a part of the state where residents — let alone officeholders — cannot agree on the time of day.
I lived for 11 years in Beaumont, which comprises part of Williams’s Senate District 4. I know the region pretty well. It’s contentious, hot-headed, racially and ethnically mixed and politically diverse with a healthy portion of Democrats and Republicans finding reasons to disagree with each other.
For all I know, there might even be some Cajun influence at work there, with typically opinionated Cajuns named Boudreau, Thibideaux and Guidry preferring to disagree rather than work together.
It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Williams would draw such a comparison between his region of the state and this one. It’s also why I found the upper Texas Gulf Coast such a fascinating place to live and work for more than a decade.
It is a journalist’s version of Heaven on Earth, made that way by the contentiousness that is inbred in the good and colorful folks who live there.