Considered one of the state's leading policy leaders on transportation issues, State Representative Joe Pickett - El Paso, said he will retire from the Texas House to undergo cancer treatments.
Pickett has served the last 24 years as a state representative and had served two terms as chairman of the House Transportation Committee as well as chairman of Defense / Veterans Affairs. Homeland Security and Public Safety. Pickett said in a statement that he learned he had cancer just before the start of the 2017 legislative session and had been under treatment . He was the sponsor of two constitutional amendments that resulted in the Texas Department of Transportation receiving the largest cash infusion in the agency's history. Pickett was admired by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and was a staunch transportation advocate. His full statement reads ""With a heavy heart, I am stepping down as a member of the Texas House of Representatives effective January 4th, 2019. Just before last session, I learned I had cancer. I moved quickly and sought treatment which was somewhat successful, but not 100%. I went ahead and struggled through the 85th Legislative Session after contemplating retirement back during the early days of that session. With some down time after last session and the healing power of purpose, I pressed on and ran for re-election. In the last few weeks, I have learned of additional issues I must address. Some issues relate to the first surgery and some are unfortunately new ones. I could probably continue at a reduced work level while undergoing treatment, but I have been there and done that. I need to completely heal this time. I am told I am physically strong enough to hopefully make my recovery quicker than most. My body and mind need a break." "To the people of El Paso who had confidence in me and supported me for 12 regular sessions and 13 special sessions, Thank you with all of my heart. I was elected in 1994, the same year as George W. Bush became Governor. It has been an honor and a privilege serving my community and the State of Texas as a whole. I didn't do it alone, my family and friends were on the journey with me. You know who you are and I thank you all. It has truly been exciting, memorable and a wild ride!"
"For the rest of my life, I will never forget the gift of having forged lifelong friendships with some of my colleagues that transcend political parties and encompass differing views, and these forged friendships extend to many dedicated and driven state employees as well as some of the paid professionals who spend their working days trying to defeat or support the ideas I have had for the past 24 years. (No doubt more than a handful will be relieved). I have served under three Governors, four Lt. Governors and three Speakers of the House, many I still communicate with and consider to be my friends."
"I have been blessed to have held more Leadership Positions than any other member from the El Paso area during a career, Chair of House Transportation twice (2009 and again in 2015), Chairman of Defense and Veterans Affairs (2011), Chairman of Homeland Security and Department of Public Safety (2013), Chairman of Environmental Regulation (2017), and I was the Chairman of two Select Committees on Transportation funding and planning. I also served as a Sub-Committee chairman on Appropriations the year the Texas Tech Medical School became a reality and I was part of countless working groups at state agencies over the years. I have had the privilege of being the author or sponsor of over 120 individual bills and two constitutional Amendments which brought in the largest cash infusion to the Texas Department of Transportation in the history of the agency, and almost as many amendments to bills, representing El Paso and the State of Texas as a whole."
"I will be forgotten but not completely gone. I am shoring up a working contract with TxDOT for the lease and use of the Lincoln Center and finalizing some talks with BNSF railroad that should be the last issue outstanding on the purchase of the ASARCO property by UTEP. With that said, I will continue to pick and choose issues to be involved in at home and around the state. After a time of recovery, I will be working on my old cars, still playing the drums and finding new ways to be of service."
"And a post script for those out there that have included me on their "nice" list and have sent me a campaign contribution, recently, I will be sending them back with my appreciation."
"Although up to the Governor, a Special Election can be called in time for a new member to be sworn in and become a member of the 86th Session."