Texas Politics

Tarrant County lawmaker Stickland gets ‘cockroach’ designation on this list

No Tarrant County lawmaker made the best or worst list in Texas Monthly’s every-other-year roundup of the legislative session.

But the publication created a new category for Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford: Cockroach, which is “reserved for a member who’s always stirring up trouble for no good purpose.”

“This year, we’re giving Jonathan Stickland our first-ever Cockroach Award and enshrining the term for a lawmaker who accomplishes nothing but always manages to show up in the worst possible way,” the magazine stated.

Stickland, who has worked in the pest control industry, made the magazine’s list of “worst” lawmakers in the past.

This year, the publication indicated the lawmaker long known as a firebrand and political bomb-thrower — a devout Republican who ardently believes that less government is best — “is a completely ineffective messenger for even his own causes.

“He hogs the House microphone with his ravings so often that other legislators have quit listening to him.”

After the list was released, Stickland posted this on Twitter:

“Unlike ants and termites, individual cockroaches exhibit dynamic character traits, such as bravery and sociability. This may explain why cockroaches are such excellent survivors, capable of adapting to inhospitable and often unpredictable environments.”

At least one lawmaker made a post in support of Stickland.

“For whatever its worth, when a news media outlet calls a State Representative a ‘Cockroach,’ they make my media ‘worst list.’ @RepStickland @TexasMonthly,” Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, wrote on Twitter.

This year, Stickland — who narrowly won his 2018 re-election bid — passed his first bill through the Legislature since he took office in 2013: the plan to eliminate red light cameras throughout Texas, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law.

“Stickland will be the first to tell you that he’s matured,” the magazine wrote. “Funny how a close election will make you put on your big-boy pants. He ceased ambushing his fellow legislators’ bills without warning and became more cooperative. He signed onto a bipartisan bill to create a statewide database of DNA from sex offenders. And he passed his first bill in seven years: legislation to ban red-light cameras.

“But don’t kid yourself: a cockroach can’t transform itself into a butterfly.”

Here’s a look at the lawmakers recognized on this year’s list, according to Texas Monthly.

Best: House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Reps. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, James White, R-Hillister, Donna Howard, D-Austin, Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress; and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.

Worst: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston; Sens. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, John Whitmire, D-Houston, Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; Reps. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass, and Jeff Leach, R-Plano.

Special Awards: Abbott, most improved; Stickland, cockroach; Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Dallas, freshman of the year; Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, Bull of the Brazos; and Sens. Bob Hall, R-Rockwall, Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville; and Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, furniture.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.