Texas state Sen. Tommy Williams came to the Panhandle recently to take part briefly in a ceremony honoring three of his legislative colleagues.
Williams spoke enviously of the camaraderie that Sen. Kel Seliger, Rep. John Smithee and Rep. Four Price — all Amarillo Republicans — enjoy as the serve in the Texas Legislature.
They received some kudos from Williams, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year, and then they sat down with Evan Smith, editor in chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, who conducted a recorded conversation with the three Panhandle lawmakers at the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on the West Texas A&M University campus.
You can see the interview in its entirety by clicking on the link attached just below.
And yes, Smith’s interview did reveal a certain harmony among all three legislators. They do represent essentially identical constituencies.
Smithee is the senior statesman among the Panhandle legislative delegation, having served in the state House of Representatives since 1985. Seliger has served in the state Senate since 2004. Price is the new guy among the three of them, having served in the House since 2011.
Listening to the interview, you get a sense of how they work together to further what’s commonly called the “community of interest.” Price represents Potter County, Smithee’s district covers Randall County, while Seliger’s district covers them both — plus a whole lot more in a meandering pattern all the way from the Texas-Oklahoma border to the Permian Basin.
Williams declared his envy because his Senate district in the southeastern corner of the state is a much more contentious region.
It’s different here, with residents by and large coming from the same philosophical background and their legislators reflecting that common bond.
Take some time to listen to these men talk about the state’s relatively good economic health, the battle over how to fund infrastructure improvements, how to craft a statewide strategy to conserve water and find new water sources, how to pay for public education and how to deal with the Affordable Care Act.
You’ll find them talking in nearly perfect pitch with — and about — each other.