Political People and their Moves

Gov. Rick Perry set Jan. 28 for the special runoff election for HD-50. Republican Mike VanDeWalle and Democrat Celia Israel are competing to fill the seat left vacant by state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, who resigned to work for Google Fiber.

Perry appointed Leanne Johnson of Beaumont to a seat on the 9th Court of Appeals. The term runs through the next general election.

Will Montgomery, a partner in the Dallas office of Jackson Walker LLP, has been named by House Speaker Joe Straus to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Oversight Committee.

Ross Phillips is the new interim general manager for the Lower Colorado River Authority. A search continues for a permanent replacement for Becky Motal, who is retiring at the end of year.

Neal Smatresk has been named the sole finalist to become the next president of the University of North Texas in Denton. Smatresk is currently the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He replaces V. Lane Rawlins who is stepping down at UNT by the end of the year.

Mark Harmon is the new director of intergovernmental relations at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He was previously the agency's legislative liaison and served time on the staffs of state Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale and state Sen. Kim Brimer.

Brian Sledge, most recently with Lloyd Gosselink, is opening his own public affairs shop under the banner Sledge Fancher.

Deaths: Former Speaker Reuben Senterfitt, D-San Saba, 96, died Wednesday. He led the Texas House from 1951 to 1955.

Texas Trial Lawyers Association Executive Director Tommy Townsend, 70, died Monday. He directed TTLA since 1990. Before that, he was in the leadership of the Texas Association of Realtors.