Biography

The best of the Rainbow Trail in El Paso

The best of the Rainbow Trail in El Paso

Senator Eliot Shapleigh has represented El Paso for more than ten years with passion and purpose. His district, District 29, which encompasses most of El Paso, is a culturally diverse mix of hard working families, small businesses and young people. As a fifth-generation El Pasoan whose roots in his community trace back to 1847, Senator Shapleigh's strong connection to his district has inspired creative community-based leadership since 1996.

Senator Eliot Shapleigh is as deeply committed to the El Paso community as he is to his family. He is the proud father of Zoe and Ben Shapleigh.

Background

Eliot Shapleigh was born and raised in El Paso. He has lived and traveled extensively in Mexico, and is a fluent Spanish speaker today. Senator Shapleigh graduated from Rice University in 1974 and served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa until 1977. He then attended The University of Texas School of Law, graduating in 1981. In 1983, Senator Shapleigh founded his own law firm with two partners and today is the managing partner of the Shapleigh Law Firm, PC.

Senator Shapleigh currently resides in El Paso, Texas.

Legislative Record

Senator Shapleigh is dedicated to increasing equity in state funding, ensuring fairness in state taxation, expanding educational opportunities for minority and low-income students, and developing community solutions for health, safety, and environmental issues. As an advocate for El Paso and other border communities, he is also interested in raising per capita income and boosting economic prosperity along the Texas Border.

In June 2009, Senator Shapleigh completed his seventh session as a legislator. During his tenure as a state Senator, he has authored more than 600 bills, with particular focus on education, economic development, infrastructure, technology, veteran, and health care issues. Additionally, he has been integral in helping prepare the state for the Department of Defense's periodic reassessment of infrastructure needs, or base realignment and closure (BRAC).

As a result of his commitment to Texas' defense communities and military heritage, Senator Shapleigh was appointed Chair of the Subcommittee on Base Realignment and Closure in 2004 and continues to lead that subcommittee. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee. Additionally, Shapleigh is a member of the Health & Human Services, Nominations, and Transportation & Homeland Security Committees.

Some of the key pieces of legislation filed and passed by Senator Shapleigh include:

  • Senate Bill 1368 (81st Texas Legislature). In 2009, Senator Shapleigh passed legislation that created the El Paso County Ethics Commission, the first of its kind in Texas. S.B. 1368 will allow the county to establish an independent ethics commission that will adopt, publish and enforce an ethics code governing county public servants.
  • Senate Bill 962 (80th Texas Legislature). In 2007, Senator Shapleigh passed legislation that helps El Paso secure state funding to build the fourteen new schools that troops and families moving into the community as a result of BRAC.
  • Senate Bill 1479 (79th Texas Legislaure). In 2005, Senator Shapleigh passed the Texas Soldier's Payday Protection Act to prevent predatory lending abuses on Texas soldiers. S.B. 1479 barred lenders from taking certain actions against military personnel, including barring collection activities during deployment and requiring lenders to make disclosures to military customers regarding these restrictions.
  • Senate Bill 652 (78th Texas Legislature). In 2003, Senator Shapleigh spearheaded the state's preparation for the 2005 BRAC round by authoring the omnibus Texas Military Preparedness Act.
  • Senate Bill 749 (77th Texas Legislature). In 2001, Senator Shapleigh passed S.B. 749, which allowed the state agency responsible for environmental regulation to have the ability to work closely with Mexican counterparts on projects of mutual concern.
  • Senate Bill 974 (76th Texas Legislature). In 1999, Senator Shapleigh authored the legislation that launched Texas Online, one of the best state online government website in the U.S.
  • Senate Bill 758 (75th Texas Legislature). In 1997, Senator Shapleigh's passed legislation that increased criminal penalties for graffiti offenders, created a graffiti eradication fund, and required businesses to restrict access to aerosol paint.

Additional information regarding Senator Shapleigh's sessions in review may be found on his website.

El Paso Economic Summit

As a result of the Unite El Paso movement, Senator Shapleigh organized the 1998 El Paso Economic Summit, along with civic leaders such as Woody Hunt, UTEP President Diana Natalicio, and Mayor Carlos Ramirez. Hundreds assembled at UTEP to describe a communitywide effort to build capacity for higher wage jobs in El Paso. At that gathering, the number one goal for El Paso's future was identified as establishing a four-year medical school as the anchor of a joint institution Medical Center of the Americas.

Soon thereafter, Senator Shapleigh, County Attorney José Rodriguez, Woody Hunt, Robert Brown, John Montford, and others joined in discussions about how best to establish the medical school and which institution should carry the mission forward. As a result, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents made establishing a four-year medical school in El Paso an important goal of the System. Over the coming legislative sessions, incremental progress was made in establishing the state's ninth medical school and first since 1977. In 2009, the first new medical students at El Paso's medical school began their studies at the campus. The El Paso Medical School was the first new medical school to be established in the U.S. in 30 years. The school also is the only four-year medical school on the United States/Mexico border.

Community Scholars

Senator Shapleigh co-founded Community Scholars, El Paso's nationally recognized youth leadership program. With a vision of developing the regional community leaders of tomorrow, Community Scholars is a youth leadership development internship program that provides public policy research opportunities for high school sophomores, juniors, and college students. The summer program began in 1998 and operates under Community Scholars, Inc., a grass roots nonprofit corporation.

The Texas Eleven

Senator Shapleigh was one of the Texas Eleven, a group of Democratic Texas State Senators who broke quorum and removed to New Mexico for 46 days in 2003 in a quorum-busting effort aimed at preventing the passage of controversial re-redistricting legislation, spearheaded by then Congressional House Majority leader Tom Delay, that would have benefited Texas Republicans.

Eventually the Texas Eleven was vindicated by the United States Supreme Court through its rulings that the re-districting could be considered gerrymandering and did bear unconstitutional elements.

ASARCO

Senator Shapleigh led the opposition to the reopening of an ASARCO-operated copper smelter located near downtown El Paso since 1887. The smelter, which had been shut down in 1999 due to low copper prices, filed to renew their air permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2002. Joined by leaders. from across the three-state, two-nation region, Senator Shapleigh and hundreds of activists from El Paso, Juarez, and New Mexico placed enormous pressure on the corporation to justify putting over 7,000 tons of new pollutants into El Paso's air. After eight years, the TCEQ Commissioners granted the permit on a 3-0 vote. The Environmental Protection Agency soon intervened, however, citing deficiencies with the permitting process and ASARCO's air control equipment. As a result, ASARCO announced that the El Paso smelter would not reopen. As of July 2009, it appears the smelter property will be placed in an environmental remediation trust so that it may be cleaned up using funding obtained via ASARCO's bankruptcy.

Border Legislative Conference

From 2007 to 2008, Senator Shapleigh served as the chair of the Border Legislative Conference (BLC), a program administered by the Council of State Governments (CSG)-WEST and its regional partner in the South, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC). The BLC serves as a mechanism for ongoing dialogue and collaboration between state legislators of the United States and Mexico. The BLC fosters the development of shared solutions along the border region through joint consideration of common problems and exchange of information. Membership in the BLC is comprised of legislators from the ten states along the U.S.-Mexico border: California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the U.S., and Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas in Mexico.

Invest in the American Dream

Senator Shapleigh organized and held the Invest in the American Dream Conference in 2008. The conference kicked off a five-year community-driven initiative centered on creating wealth and financial stability, developing financial literacy, facilitating access to capital, and replicating financial best practices.

Equipo Bowie

In 2008, Senator Shapleigh founded Equipo Bowie, a unique community engagement strategy to improve academic achievement throughout the El Paso Independent School District's Bowie High School feeder pattern through proven evidence-based early childhood education through twelfth grade initiatives. Equipo Bowie will seek to perform a comprehensive baseline analysis on the Bowie High School feeder pattern, identify best practices and develop systemic solutions to key, prioritized challenges, deliver resources where needed, and measure progress.

Honors

Throughout Senator Shapleigh's service in the Senate, he has received numerous honors for his work on education, health, and border issues. He has also been recognized for innovative technology programs, as well as and his integrity and passion.

National honors include being named the 2010 NASW National Public Elected Official of the Year, as well as being named a Visionary Technology Innovator by the Center for Digital Government for his commitment to expanding access to government services through technology and Legislator of the Year by the American School Health Association for his commitment to the health of school children. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Sierra Club. He was also named as one of the National Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology by Government Technology Magazine.

State-level honors include receipt of the National Association of Social Workers' Texas Public Elected Official of the Year for 2009. Senator Shapleigh has been named the Texas Legislator of the Year by the Mexican American Bar Association, the Hispanic Journal, Texas Pharmacy Association, Texas Sierra Club, and the Texas American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). In 2007, Senator Shapleigh was given the MALDEF Matt Garcia Public Service Award for his work on immigration issues and his leadership on other statewide issues affecting the Mexican-American community. Senator Shapleigh was also honored in January 2008 by the American Electronics Association (AeA) Texas Council as a 2007 Texas Technology Champion for his pioneer work in developing "Texas Online," one of the top state government websites in the United States, launching the "Texas Technology Immersion Program," a program designed to provide laptops for every Texas public school student, and creating E-Vets, an innovative one-stop shop for Texas veterans to locate key federal, state, and local veteran-related programs.

His work on behalf of Texas school children has been honored by various Texas advocacy groups. Upon completion of the 78th Legislative Session, Shapleigh was named the Texas Classroom Advocate of the Year by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Additionally, the Child Crisis Centers of Texas presented Senator Shapleigh with the Texas Advocate for Children Award, and the Texas Equity Center named Senator Shapleigh a "Champion For School Children." In 2006, Shapleigh was awarded the Education Leadership Award through the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC).

Additionally, the American Cancer Society presented Senator Shapleigh with the Texas Advocacy Award, and the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) named him a Public Interest Champion in 2005. The Texas Guardianship Association gave him 2005's Visionary Award for his work in reforming adult protective services in Texas, and he also received the Legislator of Excellence Award from the Texas Independent Living Council for his part in protecting and advancing the rights of Texans with disabilities. Senator Shapleigh was also named the "Conscience of the Senate" by Texas Monthly magazine due to the commitment and integrity he displayed during the 2005 legislative session.

Local honors stem from Senator Shapleigh's commitment to his community. In 2011, Senator Shapleigh received the Bravo Award from the League of Women Voters for lifetime achievements as a public official. He was awarded the Conquistador Award by the El Paso City Council and named El Pasoan of the Year by El Paso Inc. for his work in bringing a four-year medical school to the community. El Paso Mental Health & Mental Retardation awarded Senator Shapleigh the Mental Health Hero Award 2008. That same year, he received the Public Official of the Year award from the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter, El Paso Branch. In 2006, he was named the Legislator of the Year by the El Paso Municipal Police Association. The Black El Paso Democrats named him Humanitarian of the Year in 2004, and he was also inducted into the El Paso Democratic Party's Hall of Fame. Finally, the El Paso Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women honored Senator Shapleigh with the Hannah Solomon Award and the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce inducted him into their Technology Hall of Fame.

VITAL STATISTICS
Address 800 Wyoming, Suite A
El Paso, Texas 79902
(915) 544-1990
Family Children - Zoe and Ben
Date of Birth November 11, 1952
Religion Episcopalian
Education Rice University, BA., 1974
University of Texas School of Law. J.D., 1981
Civic Activities Community Scholars Co- Founder
"Tu Comunidad" El Paso Environmental Summit- Founder
Paseno Art in Austin - Founder
Salvation Army Board - Former Chair
El Paso Economic Development Summit 1998
El Paso Education Summit 2000
Access To Capital Summit 2000
Invest in the American Dream Initiative 2007
Equipo Bowie 2007
¡Ganas! 2008
Occupation Attorney
Legislative Experience Senate Member, 1997 - present
Current Committee Chairmanships Subcommittee on Base Closure and Realignment
Current Committee Appointments Veterans Affairs and Military Installations, Vice Chair
Health and Human Services
Nominations
Transportation and Homeland Security