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State Rep. Garnet Coleman to retire from Texas Legislature

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After more than 30 years serving the Houston area, longtime politician Garnet Fredrick Coleman has decided it’s time to retire.

Coleman, who has represented parts of central and southeast Houston in state House District 147 since 1991, said his retirement was based primarily on health reasons. After nearly collapsing on the House floor in early May, Coleman battled a severe illness that eventually led to the amputation of his lower right leg.

He assured that he still plans to stay “involved in public policy as much as” he can.

“I’m proud of the work I’ve done and my office has done,” Coleman told the media. “It’s just time to do something else — I’m 60 years old [and want to] use the rest of my time doing positive things.”

Coleman was born on September 8, 1961, in Washington, DC and raised in Houston. His father is John B. Coleman, a Houston doctor. As of 2006, the family of Coleman’s father had lived in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood for over 100 years.

Coleman graduated from Jack Yates High School and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1990, graduated from the University of St. Thomas cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. He also completed the Harvard University Senior Executive Program for State and Local Government.

Coleman was elected to his first term as a state representative in 1991 at age 29. His district includes Downtown Houston, the Hobby Airport area, Midtown Houston, Sagemont, and the Third Ward.

Coleman has been named Texas Monthly Ten Best Legislators List on two occasions. He also received the 2005 Reintegration Award presented by Eli Lilly and Company, a national award given in acknowledgment of efforts to increase services and decrease the stigma associated with mental illness.

Regarding Third Ward, Coleman expressed his opposition to gentrification and a desire to keep the original residents in the neighborhood. Coleman had some control over the Midtown Tax Increment Financing District, which bought land in the Third Ward and enacted deeds restricting what may be done with the land, so that the land could indefinitely be used to house low-income residents. In 2009, Coleman said, “We learned a lot from the debacle in the Fourth Ward so it would be stupid not to respond to the negative byproducts of rapid development. We want to find people who will make this community better by becoming part of its fabric, not by changing its fabric.”

Regarding Fourth Ward, in 2009, Coleman said that it cannot recapture the sense of community that it used to have. Coleman added “the residents got pushed to the suburbs, and the businesses got wiped away.”

He joins a growing list of lawmakers deciding not to seek re-election.

“I’ve enjoyed all 30 years. But it’s very difficult in the environment that we’re in to get much fulfillment out of serving,” he said.

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said Coleman’s retirement is a loss for the Democratic Caucus, the Texas House and the entire state of Texas.

“While the Texas House will not be the same without him. The impact he has made will be felt for many years to come in his policy accomplishments, as well as through the many colleagues he has mentored and staff he has trained,” Turner expressed. – AANI

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