State Rep. Joe Pickett, not your average Joe
By Joe Olvera ©, 2012
“Just say no!” is the advice from long-time legislator Joe Pickett. “The first time I was approached with an offer of money to vote a certain way, or to support a certain issue, I said no in no uncertain terms. Now, everybody knows that I can’t be bought, so they leave me alone. It’s too bad what’s been happening in El Paso with leaders and pillars of the community. But, that’s not going to last forever. It seems to be a standard operation, this corruption, but, it won’t last. Politicians and other people know that the public is keeping its eye on them.”
Pickett, who recently was awarded a “Friend of County Government” by the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) for his excellent work in the 82nd Legislative Session, has been a member of the Texas House of Representatives going on his 18th year. He was first elected to that office, representing House District 79 in 1994, after serving two terms as an El Paso City Council Representative. His work as a representative was also exemplary. The TAC also honored State Reps. Marisa Marquez and Naomi Gonzalez.
According to TAC, Pickett was honored because of the leadership he has shown on transportation issues, authoring such legislation as HB 563, HJR 63, and HB 630. These pieces of legislation give local governments some of the tools they need to address local transportation challenges. “TAC appreciates Rep. Pickett’s belief in local control and in preserving decision-making authority at the county level,” said TAC Legislative Director Paul Sugg. “TAC values his background in local government and we know this background influences much of what Pickett does as a legislator.” TAC is a statewide non-profit organization that represents counties at the Capitol, conducts required continuing education for officials ad provides other needed services for county government.”
Pickett, who has also won Legislator of the Year honors – his latest was for 2011 – said he appreciates the recognition, but, that he isn’t doing what he’s doing just to receive awards. “I have close friends on both parties,” Pickett said. “That’s been my strong point.” Pickett, who was castigated by the Democratic Party for voting with Republicans on requiring a state-issued ID card for voting purposes, stuck by his guns, despite threats to oust him from the Democratic Party. “I heard from my constituents that they thought I was doing the right thing, so, I went against my party’s wishes and voted with Republicans on this issue. However, all that blew over really fast. It took about an hour.”
The life-long Democrat delights in restoring old automobiles, which makes his garage beam with beautiful-looking models. As a welder, he does much of the restoration work himself. While his being a legislator is a priority, he still finds time to tinker with such beauties as a 1953 American LaFrance Fire Engine, a police motorcycle among other bikes, a 1963 Cadillac M&M Hearse, a 1916 Dodge Brothers Roadster, and, you guessed it – the late actor John Wayne’s War Wagon.”
Even though some people have suggested that in order to eliminate corruption reputable leaders must be elected, Pickett said there is no way to tell if there is something wrong in a person’s psyche. “There is no innate test to determine if someone is honest,” Pickett said. “Of course, no one’s waving money in front of me asking me to take a bribe, but, to many people the money is a temptation. It’s easy to say no, however, and once a person says no – that becomes the most important thing.