Former state representative Ruth Jones McClendon, who represented the San Antonio area for two decades, died on Tuesday.
The announcement was made at the Bexar County Commissioners Court that she passed away after a battle with brain cancer. McClendon was 74 years old.
Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, the current state representative for the district that McClendon spent years representing, spoke with KENS 5 over the phone. She has known McClendon for many years and witnessed her career in politics.
"I think the biggest thing is that she was able to reach across the aisle and had a lot going on at the state level,” Gervin-Hawkins said. “I know a lot of times people don't see that locally. But since my first year there, there hasn't been a week that's gone by that one of her past colleagues did not bring me a story about how they felt about her, how they held her in high esteem or how she worked to make things happen.”
McClendon served as a San Antonio councilwoman in the 90's before heading to the Texas House. During McClendon's time in the Texas House of Representatives, she helped pass nearly 150 bills.
She was focused on education, health care, safety, the elderly, and children.
"Passion, dealing with drug addicted folks, being able to work with them and work the system better. And she also had a lot of juvenile issues that she was passionate about," Gervin-Hawkins recalled. "We're going to always remember her as a leader, at the house level, that has really made a difference."
Many lawmakers, state and city leaders expressed their condolences.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement:
"Ruth Jones McClendon was a consensus builder, who used her considerable political skills to help the needy. As a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Legislature,
McClendon managed to land on the House Appropriations Committee under two Republican speakers. She was a strong voice for San Antonio and her district.
She wielded power gently but effectively. McClendon was a statewide force on transportation while also working to address the needs of the state's poorest citizens.
San Antonio is a better city because of her work as a member of City Council and in the Texas House. She will be greatly missed."
State Senator José Menéndez who serves District 26, wrote:
So sad to hear of the passing of my dear friend Ruth Jones McClendon. A true champion of always working to make a positive difference for us all, this world will not be the same without her. My family and I send heartfelt prayers of comfort to her family. #txlege