It was a fun meeting today at the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club. Rather than have the usual speaker or two, club President Sophia Mafrige honored the past presidents of the club. This from the invite for the meeting:
In our twentieth year, we look back at the men and women who have led our club to where it is today. Tireless volunteers have given their time in the past two decades to bring information and good times to the politically active people of downtown Houston.
The club started in 1994, meeting in the Lyric Center. Later that year, Republican candidates swept almost all county-wide offices, while state-wide we took back the Governor’s Mansion and nationally took control of the House for the first time in decades.
Since then, the club has met at Christ Church Cathedral, Kim Son on Market Square, Kim Son on Jefferson, the Houston Club, the Rice, and our current location at the Spaghetti Warehouse
The first president of the club was Hon. Richard Hall, an attorney. Hall was later elected judge of the 270th Judicial District Court, and later ran unsuccessfully for the Court of Appeals. He is currently in private practice.
Hall was followed by Jeff Shadwick. A native Kansan, one of his prized possession is a Bob Dole campaign banner from 1996. He later served two terms on the HISD School Board, and is currently judge of the 55th District Court.
The third president was Jeff Gilbert, who ran unsuccessfully for the 183rd District Court. Jeff had to resign mid term when his employment required him to move to Dallas. He currently practices law in Brazoria County.
The remainder of Gilbert’s term was finished by Hon. Tim Taft. He was then elected for an additional term as president. Justice Taft served three terms on the First Court of Appeals after a career in the Harris County District Attorney’s office appellate division. He is currently retired, but active in the Christian Legal Society. He and Richard Hall have traveled the state extensively seeding new Pachyderm clubs.
Suzanne Testa’s presidency probably saw some of the largest crowds in the history of the club. With membership over 100, there were over 250 people present for the DA candidate forum in 2000. Ms. Testa has worked at the grassroots level in numerous campaigns, and has also served in the District Clerk’s and the Tax Assessor’s offices.
Dennis Paul is an engineer, who currently serves as a member of the State Republican Executive Committee for District 11.
Bernard Maristany, also an engineer, ran unsuccessfully for Houston City Council District E.
Tom Zakes, an attorney in Houston, and currently secretary of the club had previously run for Houston City Council at Large. He is a precinct judge in Channelview and treasurer of the newly formed Lone Star Republicans.
Hon. Conrad Moren currently serves as the Associate Judge for the 310th District Court.
Hon. Dan Lemkuil previously served as the Associate Judge for the 310th District Court. He has also run unsuccessfully for the 309th District Court and Harris County Sheriff. He currently practices law in Houston.
Hon. Denise Pratt served for many years as a precinct judge in Baytown. She is currently judge of the 311th District Court.
Hon. Bill Henderson previously served as judge of the 311th District Court. He currently works in the office of the County Judge.
Ed Johnson is a long time precinct chair who works in the office of the County Clerk. He previously worked in the office of the Tax Assessor Collector.
Randy Kubosh is a precinct chair and bail bondsman. He previously served on the finance committee of the Harris County Republican Party.
Seven of the fourteen past presidents were in attendance today and received a pin and a certificate for their service to the club. The most memorable lines from their speeches:
- Tom Zakes – Tom made us repeat after him “I AM” and then “SOMEBODY” and reminded us that when we say that “somebody ought to do something”, we are that “somebody”.
- Judge Denise Pratt – When I was president, I did like a good Republican should and moved us around to different restaurants whenever someone raised their price.
- Randy Kubosh – The best thing about the job, since I’m a bail bondsman, is that when I appear before a judge, I know them!
It was a lot of fun. Plus there were a lot of candidates in attendance, including one statewide candidate, Eric Opiela, who is running for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. Eric was well received and worked the room like an experienced politician, even though this is his first race.
This is one of those days when the real story is in the pictures.