Former Houston City Council member Joe Roach has passed away at the age of 49.
A Clear Lake-area Republican, Roach — a one-time chief prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office — leaped onto the local political scene by defeating 30-year-incumbent City Councilman Frank Mancuso.
Roach served on the council from 1994-2000, flirting with a possible mayoral bid before returning to private life and a career as a defense lawyer.
Born Jones W. Roach Jr., a name he eschewed for the more familiar “Joe,” Roach, a dwarf, was a champion for people with disabilities.
“I think his City Council legacy and his national legacy was that he was the most powerful little person ever to serve in public office in the U.S.,” said council colleague and friend Rob Todd. “He showed that typical Houston spirit — that it’s not what you’re born with, but what you do with yourself and how hard you fight that counts.”
Nancy Sims, a Houston public relations specialist and consultant for Roach’s first City Council bid, said unseating Mancuso, who died in 2007, was a formidable challenge. Roach served one term as District E councilman before winning two terms in an at-large seat.
“He thought City Council needed fresh ideas,” she said. “One of the mail pieces we sent out said that he (Mancuso) had been there for longer than a mortgage.”
Sims also said Roach possessed a robust sense of humor.
“We literally ran his campaign using full-sized pictures of him,” she said. “We said he was ‘big enough for Houston.’ He loved that.”
KTRK has more. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Joe Roach.