Unlike most representatives, Joe Straus, Texas Speaker of the House, can bring together green cars and Republican politics.
“Who else do you know that drives a Prius with a Romney sticker?” said Brian McCall, chancellor of the Texas State University System.
On Tuesday evening, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life presented the annual Texas Leadership Award to Straus, R-San Antonio.
According to the institute, the award honors outstanding public servants in the state of Texas.
First joining the House in February 2005, Straus was elected speaker during the 81st Legislative Session in 2009 and won re-election in 2011 and 2013.
During his acceptance speech, Straus said he was deeply honored to receive an award that bears the Strauss name. He also shared some of his insight on the obstacles of engaging the public in political processes.
“The solution to what ails most of our politics today is for more voters to get involved,” Straus said. “Some voters will always be cynical but we can begin to restore trust in government if we provide a positive vision for where we want to go.”
Roderick Hart, College of Communication dean and director of the Annette Strauss Institute, hosted the tribute and presented a total of eight speakers throughout the night including Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Theodore Strauss, co-chair and husband of the late Annette Strauss.
The Annette Strauss Institute honors the legacy of former Dallas mayor Annette Strauss through the promotion of civic engagement and leadership, according to its mission statement. Institute director Regina Lawrence said the organization is equal parts research and educational programming.
“The skills and attitudes and values and habits that are necessary for real democracy and self governance are things that must be taught,” Lawrence said. “Too often, they are not taught and our mission is to try and fill that gap.”
The institute primarily reaches out to middle school, high school and college students to encourage public service and civic participation.
President William Powers Jr., who officially presented the award to Straus, said he could not think of a more deserving recipient of the award based on the institute’s mission.
“You embody the ideals that Annette Strauss tried to inculcate in what we do and what we try to inculcate in young people today in this country, in this state and in our community,” Powers said.