GOP State Representative T.W. Shannon will officially assume his news duties as Speaker of the House in Oklahoma’s legislature on Tuesday when the 2013 session officially begins.
Shannon, 34, has represented the Lawton, Oklahoma, area in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives for six years.
The Lawton Constitution newspaper explains the historic nature of Shannon’s ascendancy to the speakership:
“Shannon will be the first African-American in state history to hold the House Speaker post.. Shannon also is only the sixth Republican in state history to be House Speaker and will be one of the youngest House Speakers in the nation … “
NewsOK also commented favorably on Shannon’s new high-profile position in the state house:
“Shannon stresses policy and conservative ideology rather than race, but as the first black Oklahoma House speaker — and only black Republican leading a legislative chamber in the country — he’ll get national attention reflecting positively on Oklahoma.”
According to his legislative website, Shannon is a 6th generation Oklahoman and 3rd generation Lawtonian who is also a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Outside of politics, he is a business consultant who earned a law degree from Oklahoma City University.
As a matter of legislative priorities, he is an advocate of a conservative, free-market, limited-government agenda.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon offered these comments about the upcoming Oklahoma legislative session according to NewsOK:
“My goal next session is to hopefully be a voice of reason and also to be continuing to push for a conservative agenda that also provides for economic growth in the state. I’m confident we’ll be able to do it …
“I’m honored to be the speaker and the fact that I’m the first African-American, it says a lot about my colleagues who were willing to trust me. But I know that they didn’t do it because of my race or even in spite of my race. They did it because they believe I’ve got some ideas and some leadership abilities that can help, A, unite this caucus and, B, hopefully provide leadership to the entire Legislature.
“My race and ethnic heritage, it’s a part of who I am. But I represent the people of District 62 and I represent all the people of Oklahoma.”
Republicans hold a 72-29 majority in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.