Texas Inaugurates Sen. Chris Harris as Governor For A Day
AUSTIN - Arlington Sen. Chris Harris was today inaugurated as Texas' Governor for Saturday, May 5, 2001.
Harris' fellow senators unanimously elected him president pro tempore of the Senate on January 9, the first day of the 77th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. As president pro tempore, Harris serves as governor when the governor and lieutenant governor are out of the state. Today's official swearing-in as governor for a day marks a long-standing Texas tradition.
"I am not what I consider a politician," Harris said. "And the heck of it is, I've never claimed to be one. I say what I think, as you've been more than told today. But I mean what I say. And as you've also been told, I even do it when it's not the popular thing to do."
In addition to Harris' family, invited guests and Senate colleagues, dignitaries including House Speaker James E. "Pete" Laney, Secretary of State Henry Cuellar and Comptroller of Public Accounts Carole Keeton Rylander attended Harris' inauguration. Among Harris' invited guests were two women whose husbands were Arlington firefighters killed in the line of duty two years ago.
The oath of office was administered by Clyde Ashworth, former presiding judge of the 8th Administrative Judicial Region and former justice of the 2nd Court of Appeals.
"God bless Texas," Harris said. "It is only through hard work that we -- when I say we I mean all of us whether elected officials or constituents -- it is only through hard work of all of us that we can make it happen."
A rancher and businessman, Harris served in the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1990, where he was on the Appropriations Committee. His Senate career began in 1991. He serves as vice-chair of the Finance Committee and on the Health and Human Services and State Affairs committees.
Harris' Senate accomplishments include the re-writing of Texas' juvenile justice laws in 1995, placing a priority on deterrence, prevention and punishment. In 1999, he focused on improving education, helping to win teacher pay increases. He is also credited with helping to design programs aimed at preventing children from dropping out of school and increasing classroom discipline.
Harris has also taken a leadership role in helping provide health insurance to more Texans. In addition, he has led efforts to strengthen child-support enforcement.
"When the chips are down, when the times get tough," said Houston Sen. Rodney Ellis, the chair of the Finance Committee, "Chris Harris is somebody you can depend on."
Following the swearing-in ceremony in the Senate Chamber, Harris welcomed his guests in the Governor's Reception Room in the Capitol.
The festivities continued on the Capitol grounds with barbecue and entertainment including live music, dancers and singers from Harris' 10th District.