IssuesState HouseChairman John Zerwas Leaves State House for Position at the University of Texas

John Zerwas, a physician and powerful lawmaker, accepted a job offer from the University of Texas and will leave the legislature for the academic institution this fall.
August 1, 2019
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Dr. John Zerwas has served in the Texas State House for 12 years. Now, he is leaving that position to take up another one as the executive vice chancellor for health affairs with the University of Texas Systems (UT) beginning October 1, 2019.

According to a press release from UT, Zerwas stated, “I am deeply honored to accept this position and all of the responsibilities to serve UT institutions and the people of Texas that come with it.”

Zerwas graduated from the University of Houston and received a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine.

During his career as a physician for over thirty years, he has served as the chief medical officer and president of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston.

In 2007, he began serving in the Texas State House representing House District 28, west of Houston.

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While serving in the state legislature, Zerwas sat on multiple House committees, including those on Higher Education and Public Health. He is currently serving as the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. 

According to Mark Jones, a fellow in political science at Rice University, Zerwas’ conservative ranking was no. 72 out of 150 total House members during the 86th Legislature.

Kevin Eltife, the chairman for the UT System Board of Regents, stated that he believes the medical and legal experience that Zerwas gained will be an asset to the university system.

“I have worked very closely with Dr. Zerwas in the Texas Legislature and have first-hand experience with his longstanding, deep commitment to health care quality and his vast knowledge of the complexities of health care delivery and policies,” Eltife said.

UT Chancellor James B. Milliken echoed Eltife’s sentiment, saying, “he will bring his experience from many perspectives to benefit our health institutions and our state.”

A special election will need to be held to fill Zerwas’s seat for the remainder of his term in the House.

Only Eliz Markowitz, a Democrat who ran for the Texas State Board of Education last year, has filed to run for the seat in 2020.

In 2018, Zerwas won the election by an 8-point margin over the opposing Democrat, Meghan Scoggins. 

He had no Republican challengers in the primary election that year.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.