Ruth McClendon

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Ruth McClendon
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 120th district
In office
November 12, 1996 – January 31, 2016
Preceded byKaryne Jones Conley
Succeeded byLaura Thompson
Member of the San Antonio City Council from District 2
In office
June 1993 – August 1996
Personal details
Ruth Elizabeth Jones

(1943-10-05)October 5, 1943
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedDecember 19, 2017(2017-12-19) (aged 74)
San Antonio, Texas
Resting placeTexas State Cemetery
Austin, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Denver McClendon
ResidenceSan Antonio, Texas
Alma materTexas Southern University
Webster University[1]
OccupationFormer juvenile probation officer

Ruth Elizabeth Jones McClendon (October 5, 1943 – December 19, 2017)[1] was an American politician from San Antonio, Texas, who represented District 120 in the Texas House of Representatives from 1996 to 2016 as a member of the Democratic Party.

On January 6, 2016, Jones in a letter to Governor Greg Abbott announced her resignation from the House effective on January 31. A brain cancer patient, Jones in her last legislative session in 2015 used an electric scooter to get around the state capitol.[2]


McClendon graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Southern University in Houston and earned a Master of Arts from Webster University in Webster Groves in suburban St. Louis, Missouri.[3]

McClendon is listed in Who's Who in American Politics, Who's Who of American Women, the International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women, and Who's Who in Texas History.[4]

In May 2016, McClendon's husband, Denver McClendon (born c. 1942), is seeking reelection to a third term in the District 2 seat as a trustee of the Alamo Community College District.[5]

Political life[edit]

McClendon won a special election for the state House on November 5, 1996; she was sworn into office a week later to succeed Karyne J. Conley, who had resigned on July 8.[6]

McClendon rarely faced serious opposition. Republicans did not even contest her heavily Democrat seat in 2014, when the party won 98 of the 150 state House seats. In her last legislative race, McClendon defeated a Libertarian Party opponent, Gilberto Villela, 16,892 (82.3 percent) to his 3,637 (17.7 percent).[7]

Prior to her legislative service, McClendon was a member of the San Antonio City Council and was the Mayor Pro Tempore from June 1993 until August 1996. For two terms, McClendon was the chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Resolutions. She also served as a member of the House Committee on Transportation in 2009. Additionally, she held a coveted seat for four terms on the House Appropriations Committee, which writes the state budget. As of 2014, McClendon had authored, sponsored, co-sponsored, or and passed more than 160 bills, excluding resolutions. She listed her legislative priorities as education, health care for children, the frail, and the elderly, restorative justice programs, and improvements of the state transportation system.[4]

McClendon cites the late U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas as her role model. McClendon was reared in the Fifth Ward of Houston, which Jordan represented first in the Texas State Senate and then the national Congress. While McClendon, a juvenile probation officer for seventeen years, said that she has faced few overpowering obstacles in her life, "discrimination has been an ongoing obstacle that we all must fight."[4]

Choosing her successor[edit]

Six of her fellow Democrats sought to succeed the retiring McClendon in the primary election held on March 1, 2016. Three of those candidates moved into District 120 specifically to run for the seat. One of those, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, is a sister of San Antonio Spurs basketball legend George Gervin. Gerwin-Hawkins is co-founder of Gervin Academy, an educational institution on the south side of San Antonio, but she had been living in the northwestern portion of the city prior to announcing her bid for representative. Civil rights activist Mario Marcel Salas, a former southside member of the San Antonio City Council of half Hispanic and half African-American descent, also returned to the district from the northwestern part of the city to make the race to succeed McClendon.[8]

Gervin-Hawkins and Salas led the primary field and will contest the May 24 runoff election. Gervin-Hawkins led with 2,677 votes (26.3 percent); Salas followed, 2,363 (23.2 percent). In third place was another educator, Byron Miller, with 1,912 votes (18.8 percent).[9]

Salas noted that Gervin-Hawkins' charter schools have been "warned" three times by the Texas Education Agency. "We've seen this across the state with some charter schools. They often don't have certified teachers [and hire those] with no real background," Salas said.[10] Gervin-Hawkins said her teachers have bachelor's degrees and are "highly qualified" in their subject areas. She said the purpose of charter schools is to enhance educational opportunities for children.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Ruth Jones McClendon". Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Gilbert Garcia, "East Side voters headed for special chaos", San Antonio Express-News, January 29, 2016, p. A2
  3. ^ "Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon - Texas State Directory Online". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Ruth McClendon Biography" (PDF). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "Keep Alamo Colleges incumbents", San Antonio Express-News, April 16, 2016, p. A12
  6. ^ "Ruth McClendon". Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  7. ^ "General election returns, November 4, 2014". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  8. ^ Gilbert Garcia, "Carpetbaggers on display in the race for District 120", San Antonio Express-News, January 3, 2016, p. A2
  9. ^ "Democratic primary returns". March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Gilbert Garcia, "Dist. 120 rivals clash over charter schools", San Antonio Express-News, March 4, 2016, p. A2
Political offices
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Karyne Jones Conley
Texas State Representative for
District 120 (San Antonio)

Ruth Elizabeth Jones McClendon

Succeeded by
Laura Thompson