By Senator Kirk Watson, Chair, Texas Senate Democratic Caucus
Today, the members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus mourn our longtime friend and colleague, Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr.
It’s impossible to think of Senator Gallegos without remembering his 22 years of service in the Houston Fire Department, from which he retired as Senior Captain. It was as important to his story as it was to the lives and property of the people he loved and protected.
So much of a firefighter’s heroism comes simply from being ready to rush toward an emergency, whatever it is and whenever it arises.
Mario was always ready. In his nearly 22 years in the Texas Legislature (nearly 18 of those in the Senate), he was firm in his beliefs and resolute in his spirit. He never failed or hesitated to attack the emergencies he saw, even when risking his own life to do it. And his first instinct, in every case, was to protect those who were too often ignored, passed over or even held down by powers greater than themselves. Mario’s commitment to the least of us is one thing so many of us will treasure about his legacy.
He’ll also be rightly remembered for his bravery in 2007, when he ignored a doctor’s call to return to Houston for treatment and remained in Austin and the Capitol, often in a hospital bed off the Senate floor, to fight and prevent legislation that would screen and suppress the votes and voices of the people Mario protected. He stopped that legislation that year, and its subsequent passage doesn’t lessen his heroism – it reinforces it.
Texas will be a lesser place without Mario’s heart and heroism. It falls on all of us – legislators and Texans of both parties and all backgrounds – to be ready for the seen and unseen emergencies that are coming, to attack them with passion, firmness and resolution, and to give all we have protecting those who need us the most.
May God bless Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr., his family, his friends and constituents, and may God bless Texas