The Economic Alliance Houston Port Region Board of Directors honored State Rep. Wayne Smith at their Annual Membership and Awards Banquet on the evening of Nov. 14 at the Houston Marriot South by Hobby Airport with the prestigious Visionary Award. Over 300 people from private industry, local municipalities and chambers of commerce were in attendance.
Since its inception as the Southeast Harris County Economic Development Corporation (SEED) in 1985, there have only been two prior recipients of this award – then County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia in 2006, and Deer Park City Councilman and former Economic Alliance Chairman Thane Harrison, in 2008.
“Our Visionary Award is reserved for someone whose innovative efforts on the frontlines of key regional issues, offers clear and concrete pathways to improved economic development opportunities and expanded political and social participation for the communities we serve,” said Chad Burke, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance.
Representative Smith has a distinguished record of civic service. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in November 2002, to serve District 128, encompassing Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte, Morgan’s Point, Pasadena, and portions of the unincorporated area of East Harris County. At the beginning of the 83rd Legislative Session, Representative Smith was appointed to serve as the Chairman of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures has jurisdiction over matters pertaining to business, industry, trade, gaming, and the sale of alcoholic beverages. It also has oversight of several key commissions; including the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the Texas Real Estate Commission, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In addition, he also serves as a member of the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism committee, which oversees the state’s parks, fish and wildlife, shrines, monuments, and memorials. Included is the maintenance and oversight of the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto Battleground.
Port of Houston Authority Chairman Janiece Longoria, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, and Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos, provided comments honoring the notable legislator. All three speakers acknowledged Representative Smith as a man of loyalty whose word is his bond, and spoke of him not as a politician, but a true statesman who seeks consensus when possible, does not back down from the commitments he makes, and fights on behalf of those he represents with vigor.
The region has Wayne Smith to thank for authoring the Houston Ship Channel Security District legislation in 2007, for his support of veterans, his work to improve transportation infrastructure and for maintaining local representation on the Port of Houston Authority Commission.
“For the first time there are four commissioners representing East Harris County on the commission” stated Commissioner Jack Morman with pride. Mayor DonCarlos also spoke about Smith’s actions in the wake of Hurricane Ike as illustrative of his character. The lawmaker had planned to stay in town to weather the storm with his fellow citizens, but Mayor DonCarlos asked him to leave and go to Austin. As soon as it was safe to return, Representative Smith returned. He did not wait for power to be restored; he came back and got right to work.
Smith, a man often noted for his humility spoke briefly stating “It is odd to get an award for something I agreed to do when you voted for me. We should not need an award to fulfill our promises.” Despite his humble response, it was clear he was touched by the recognition.