TEXAS — A fresh face to politics is already making waves in Central Texas.
James Talarico, who flipped a seat in the Texas House from red to blue, is now the youngest member of the Texas Legislature.
The 29-year-old Democrat was sworn into office Tuesday afternoon. Talarico took the oath of office two months before the rest of the members of the freshman class because he's filling the seat vacated by Representative Larry Gonzales (R).
Gonzales resigned in June after serving as the representative for District 52 for seven years.
Talarico is a former public school teacher who wants to use his experience to help fix the school finance system.
During his swearing-in, he criticized current politicians and said the legislature needs to change its focus.
"The current political landscape is too small for Texas, far too small," Talarico said. "Our politics are narrow minded and short sided. With every border wall, with every bathroom bill, we degrade our reputation and we dishonor our legacy."
Talarico added this session shouldn't be about a political party, but about making Texas a better state.
"This next session shouldn't be about the Democratic party. It shouldn't be about the Republican party. It should be about chasing a vision of what this state can be. A vision of Texas schools that are the envy of nation. A Texas economy that is second to none and Texas families that are stronger and healthier than they've ever been before," he added. "We can build this future, it won't happen overnight, but a giant state deserves giant dreams."
Outgoing Speaker of the House, Representative Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), called Talarico a "political talent" and said he is optimistic about the future of the legislature.
"I think the best laws are passed when everybody has a say and where there's a sense of pragmatism and compromise," said Straus. "And so I feel, I feel like heading into this next session, I won't be here, but I believe that will to reach across the aisle will continue and that'll be good for the State of Texas."
During the Midterm Election, Democrats won 12 seats in the Texas House and two seats in the Senate that were formerly held by Republicans. Straus added that should send a clear message about what the public expects and the need for lawmakers to work across the aisle.
"I think the public's expectations, especially after this last election, has changed. And I think politicians would be smart, elected officials would be very smart to listen to the voters and to perform even better than we have in the past," Straus said.
The 2019 Legislative session starts on Jan. 8.