OLYMPIA–On the first day of the 2019 session, Rep. John Lovick was once again elected as House Speaker Pro Tem, and he remains the first and only African-American to serve in that role. Lovick was nominated for the position by his seatmate, Rep. Jared Mead, minutes after he took the oath of office as the youngest member of the chamber.
“I’m excited to get to work on issues important to all of our families back home, like making your morning commute faster and reducing the skyrocketing burden of college tuition,” said Mead, who’s serving on the Transportation and College & Workforce Development committees along with Environment & Energy.
Mead praised Lovick’s history of treating every lawmaker–and every person he meets–with dignity and respect.
“The good gentleman has a saying: whenever I meet someone, I learn something,” Mead said during his nominating speech on the floor of the House. “I’ve had the good fortune of meeting the gentleman from the 44th at critical moments in my life. I’ve always, always learned something. And I could not be more proud to officially nominate him to serve as Speaker Pro Tem in this House of Representatives.”
Lovick said he’d work together with lawmakers from both parties and every corner of the state to improve public schools and public safety–including mental health, which was also a focus of Speaker Frank Chopp’s opening day speech. Chopp is stepping down as speaker after the end of the 2019 session after serving as speaker, co-speaker or House Democratic leader for more than 20 years.
During his own acceptance speech on the floor as Speaker Pro Tem, Lovick said, “I’m reminded of what the great heavy boxing champion Muhammad Ali said: ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your time here on earth.’ Watching him pay that rent over these many years made me want to be a better lawmaker and a better man. His hard work and leadership made this chamber, and this state, a far better place. Anyone interested in public service should be inspired by this man’s dignity, integrity and honor. I hope his name, and his time here, serves as a beacon of honesty and kindness.”
You can watch both speeches in the TVW footage below.