For the newly elected state representative for District 62, December has brought more than Christmas music and parades. Reggie Smith spent the first part of the month in Austin getting settled in to his new home away from home.
Smith was recently elected to fill the unexpired term of former District 62 Rep. Larry Phillips and then elected to a full term in November.
Smith explained that he and one other representative were elected to unexpired terms. That made them a class of their own among the newest members. All of the new members drew numbers to see when they would get to pick their seats and other items and Smith and the other new state representative got to go first.
“We drew ping pong balls with the state seal on one side and a number, either 1 or 2, on the other,” he said. “And I drew No. 1.”
So Smith got to pick his seat first and picked a seat that was surrounded by some Republicans that he had met and forged relationships with already as he said he felt like he would like to continue those relationships.
“In fact I was invited by them to pick this particular seat,” Smith said, explaining the seniority he won with that draw also will work in the district’s favor when it comes to being assigned to the various committees that representatives sit on.
Phillips, who served in the state house from 2003 to 2018, eventually filled an open seat in the 59th state District Court. his seniority saw him get seats on the transportation committee, which was often said to have worked out well for Grayson County when it came to road projects being approved.
Smith said walking in Phillips’ footsteps is no easy task, as Phillips made a lot of progress for the district in his time in the House.
“However, I am gonna roll up my sleeves and work hard doing my best to, as quickly as possible, get up to speed on the issues that face our district,” Smith said.
He said that No. 1 spot in the drawing will help the district in the committee assignment process. In addition to picking his seat, Smith also found lodging and picked out his office space. He said his address is E2404 in the Capitol.
In addition to getting to know the lay of the land, the new legislators were treated to some presentations by experienced lawmakers who talked about some of their earlier successes and mistakes. They also were treated to seminars on House procedures.
“We were given briefings on some of the larger issues that we think will be before the House in the coming session,” Smith said.
Two of those are very likely to be property tax reform and school finance reform. Smith said those were two of the issues he heard about the most during the campaign and since.
Smith said he is excited to be back in the district for the holiday season and to attend events in Grayson, Fannin and Delta counties. He is also excited to get to spend some time with his law practice in Sherman. Smith said he is lucky that his local practice will allow him time to travel to Austin when needed and continue to represent clients in Grayson County.
Though the counties he represents are diverse, Smith said, they face similar issues.
“People want property tax relief and they want school finance reform,” Smith said.
He said all three counties have transportation needs that are pressing and are rural in nature. Smith said he knows, however, that what is right for one of those counties might not be right for the others.
“So I intend to do my best to pay attention to their specific needs,” he said.
Smith said being elected to the state seat is the honor of his life and he appreciates the people of the district entrusting the office to him.