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Piece of Mind: Rep. Slaton Becomes A 'Cockroach'

 State Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, waits to speak from the back podium on the House floor on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. Jordan Vonderhaar
Jordan Vonderhaar
Texas Tribune
Rep. Bryan Slaton earns Texas Monthly's "Cockroach" designation.

It didn’t take Bryan Slaton long to make a name for himself in the Texas Legislature.

I don’t know the young man well, but I am going to presume that the Royse City Republican isn’t going to take all that seriously the title bestowed to him by Texas Monthly as it rated the performance of the best and worst among the state’s legislative assembly.

Texas Monthly has called the rookie lawmaker the winner of the 2021 Legislature’s Cockroach Award, given to the lawmaker who – in TM’s words – “comes to Austin just to muck things up.” What’s more, the magazine has declared that winning the dubious award is “an impressive accomplishment for a freshman.”

Ah, but I guess Rep. Slaton can stand tall and bask if he so chooses in the “honor” of earning this dubious distinction.

Slaton calls himself an arch-conservative. He sought to amend several pieces of legislation by inserting anti-transgender language into them. TM notes that “Slaton scurried into the charged debate over Austin’s homeless with a bill to designate a downtown portion of Interstate 35 as the ‘Steve Adler Public Restroom Highway,’ named for the city’s mayor.”

Sigh. I think I’ll add an “ugh” as well to my reaction to such nuttiness.

To be sure, Slaton isn’t the only Northeast Texas lawmaker to be chided for poor service to the state. TM also singled out state Sen. Bob Hall, a Canton Republican, as one of the “Worst” legislators of this session. I might have more to say on Sen. Hall later. Today I am focusing on the “meteoric rise” of one lawmaker to the annals of infamous politicians serving  the state.

This isn’t the kind of thing that I consider to be a form of good government, which has become my mantra of late as I watch the Legislature and Congress wrestle over how to move the state and nation forward.

I hope to have more discussions with Rep. Slaton in the future as the Legislature moves on and perhaps as he matures a bit as a legislator. He represents a conservative Texas House district. Indeed, he won in the seat in 2020 by defeating another conservative, former state Rep. Dan Flynn by moving to the far-right fringe of the GOP.

Is the Cockroach designation from Texas Monthly a deal breaker? Does it doom Bryan Slaton to a legislative career marked by this kind of ridicule? Of course not! Slaton can distinguish himself by taking his job more seriously than he has demonstrated so far in his still-young political career.

Then again, he might only make matters worse. As Texas Monthly noted: “ … Slaton insists he is own man. ‘No matter what I do, I’m just trying to be Bryan Slaton,’ Slaton said. And that’s exactly the problem.”

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.

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