PLANO -- As the New Year begins, the political career of a long-time Texas lawmaker is winding down. On January 8, Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano will no long old public office for the first time in more than three decades.
The former Plano mayor was elected to the Texas Senate 19 years ago.
During her first term, the murder of an eight-year-old Plano girl changed everything. Ashley Estell was kidnapped from a soccer tournament and strangled. A convicted child sex offender who was out on parole was sent to death row for Ashley's murder.
"That impact was indelible on my psyche," the retiring senator said. "It stayed with me forever. It has always stayed with me forever."
Shapiro spearheaded "Ashley's Laws," which required sex offenders to register with police departments.
"We were treating those sexual predators as if, when they sent and snatched a child, we were treating them as if they were stealing a TV set," Shapiro said. "That was the punishment they received."
As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Shapiro unsuccessfully tried to change the Robin Hood school funding system, which redistributes money from property-wealthy districts like Plano to poor ones.
"Having been in the district where we gave money away, I never found that it was equitable or fair," Shapiro said. "I always believed the state ought to be picking up the difference, not the individual local districts paying for other districts."
Shapiro is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She said her rise in Texas politics brought great pride to her parents.
"I know that they look back on their past and they could have never dreamed 35 years later, that they would have been in a position to have their daughter running for public office," she said. "So it meant a lot to me."
Shapiro said she'd like to find a new career, but she's not sure what that might be.