Texas State Senator and Former Houston Fire Fighter Passes Away at 62
October 19, 2012 – Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos Jr., a retired member of Houston Local 341, has passed away at the age of 62. He will be remembered for his outspoken dedication to fire fighters and the state of Texas.
“Senator Gallegos was a true champion for Texas fire fighters and the rest of the state’s workers,” says IAFF 11th District Vice President Roy L. “Sandy” McGhee. “We could always count on him to have our backs.”
Texas State Association of Fire Fighters President Guy Turner says, “As a state representative and senator, he did everything he could to further the goals of labor. He will be sorely missed.”
Gallegos joined the Houston Fire Department at the age of 18. After 22 years of service to the fire department and to Local 341, he became inspired to do more for his fellow fire fighters and Texas citizens and ran for political office.
In 1990, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives where he served two terms. Then, he was elected to the Texas State Senate in 1995, an office he held ever since.
From his first term in the Texas House, Senator Gallegos defined himself by loudly speaking up for working men and women across the state. He worked hard to pass legislation to help fire fighters, police officers, building tradesmen, electricians, plumbers HVAC installers, sheet metal workers and pipefitters.
During his tenure in the Texas Legislature, he authored more than 100 bills affecting fire fighters and police officers.
In 1999, Gallegos authored and passed legislation to require application of the “2-in, 2-out” rule for all paid fire fighters, with an anti-privatization provision to require a vote of the citizens on any local government proposal to replace public sector fire fighters with a private company.
In 2005, he worked to pass Texas’ Meet and Confer law, granting fire fighters the right to negotiate and sign a written labor agreement. Fire fighters had been without that right since it was taken away in the 1950s.
In 2007, it became clear that his dedication to the state had earned him the respect of other state leaders when he was appointed Senate President Pro Tempore, who presides over the senate when the lieutenant governor is not present. The President Pro Tempore is also sworn in as “Governor for a Day” when both the governor and lieutenant governor are out-of-state. Accordingly, Gallegos served as governor on May 5, 2007.
He is survived by his mother, Olga Gallegos; his wife, Theresa Gallegos; three children, Ali Templer, Melissa Gallegos and Mario Elias Gallegos; four sisters and two brothers; and five grandchildren.