Representative John Zerwas: Committed to Community

John and Sylvia Zerwas.
Photo by Laura Chiles Photography.

COVER STORY | By Liz Johnson –

Kind, caring, compassionate and humble.  These are words frequently used to describe Representative John Zerwas by his friends and colleagues. Known for being quick with a smile and a calming personality, you may also hear him described as conservative and passionate about the issues he believes in and advocates for with a steel backbone. Currently representing District 28 in the Texas House of Representatives, which makes up the Fort Bend part of the Katy area,  Zerwas is well-known in the area for representing his constituents with compassion and strength of purpose guided by his faith.

Long-Time Area Resident

Zerwas graduated from Bellaire High School in 1973, and in 1978, he married Cindy Hughes. After graduating from the University of Houston, he earned his Doctorate in Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in 1980.

Zerwas has made the Katy area his home for many years.  He chose to raise his family here. “My home growing up was Houston. When my late wife and I returned from San Antonio where I did my medical residency, we wanted a smaller home town environment but still wanted to be close to family in Houston.” They found that home in the Katy and Richmond area.

The Zerwas’ raised four children in Fort Bend County. “They have each moved on to raising their own families and pursuing various careers,” shared Zerwas. “In December of 2015, I married Sylvia, who has two adult children who are grown with their families. Between the two of us, we have six children and six grandchildren, plus one due in November.”

Over the years, Zerwas has seen many changes come to the area, but the things he loves most have not changed. One of the many things he admires most about Katy is, “the warm and friendly feeling everywhere you go. Even with the explosive growth we’ve realized in the recent past, the people continue to be so welcoming. I love the genuine warmth and kindness everywhere you go. I think the recent response to the flooding in our area was a great testimony to how we care for our neighbors and fellow Texans.” Zerwas, also a victim of the recent floods, is extremely grateful for the support of the community and very proud of how the Katy area came together to care for its residents. “It was very heartwarming to see ordinary Texans coming to the aid of one another.”

Advocate and Scientist

Representative John Zerwas being sworn into office for the 85th Texas Legislature with his granddaughter, Tinley Zerwas.

A physician for more than 30 years, Zerwas has practiced medicine in Fort Bend County most of that time. Currently, he is one of four doctors in the Texas House of Representatives. His perspective is important at a time when health and human services is one of the fastest-growing areas of state spending.

More than a decade ago, Zerwas co-founded a Houston area group practice, which recently became part of US Anesthesia Partners, and he remains active in the operations of the partnership. He has previously served as the President of the Memorial Hermann Health Network Providers and Chief Medical Officer of the Memorial Hermann Hospital System.    

“The practice of medicine combines my love of science with the opportunity to improve lives,” said Zerwas. “Periodically, I have the opportunity to serve on medical mission trips, which reminds me of how blessed we are in this country regarding the quality of our medical care.”

Zerwas finds that he has a unique perspective as both a physician, business owner, parent and grandparent who has lived in the Fort Bend area for many years and is dedicated to preserving the values and principals the area was built on, while still appreciating how many changes have come to the county.  “The explosive growth in Katy reflects the values in this community. Katy ISD is a destination school district, which is a magnet for young families. The business climate is also very attractive, which has been led by many of the local elected leaders.”

But Zerwas is aware that with growth comes challenges in many areas. “Two key issues are transportation and education. These must always be addressed, along with public safety. To the extent any of these areas require the state of Texas to make improvements, I’m committed to advocating for them.”

Protecting the Future, Caring for the Past 

Zerwas considers his public service in the Texas House of Representatives as a way to give back and also protect and strengthen District 28 for future generations. “Texas has been a wonderful state for me to raise my family and practice medicine. I want it to be an even better place for my children and grandchildren. Serving in the Texas House of Representatives allows me an opportunity to shape that future.”

The Zerwas family: Matthew Phelps, Sylvia Zerwas, Tinley Zerwas, John Zerwas, Isabella Phelps, Oliver Rabe, Dashel Rabe and Beatrice Rabe.

In addition to his love of medicine, Zerwas is known to be a staunch conservative, especially in regards to funding. In this past legislative session, he was appointed as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. This committee is charged with developing the budget for all of Texas called the General Appropriations Act. This is the only bill the legislature is constitutionally required to pass every two years.

Zerwas considers it “a privilege to lead the House budget process.” Previously, Zerwas served on the House Committee on Appropriations for eight years, four of which he served as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.  He is a member of the Legislative Budget Board, past chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education and a past member of the House Committee on Public Health. He is well-known for bringing calm and reason to the chaotic and hectic budget process, which helps keep the process on track.

“Healthcare issues are clearly a passion of mine. It’s a great privilege that I’ve been able to experience throughout my career while serving in various roles in the Texas House of Representatives. Education is also an incredibly important area of interest. Representing Katy ISD as one of the most exemplary school districts is a privilege and an honor. I look forward to working on the issues that are important to Texans, such as the appropriate funding of the mental health and foster care systems, as well as public education,” said Zerwas.

Guided by his deep faith, Zerwas has fought to defend pro-life and pro-family values. At the local level, Zerwas fought to bring a University of Houston campus to Katy and led efforts to bring a Texas State Technical College campus to Fort Bend County.

While Zerwas does a great deal of work, both as a doctor and in his role as a state representative for his constituents, many do not realize that he continues to help others, even behind the scenes, and has for years. His generosity and advocacy is well-known, but he is very humble about his work.

“I’ve been involved in several groups largely related to raising our children. Now that they are all grown and on their own, my attention has focused on organizations that work with abused children and the elderly. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Child Advocates of Fort Bend are both great organizations addressing the horror of child abuse, which unfortunately is a significant problem across the nation. I’ve also supported Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels, which addresses the issue of hunger and nutrition among our frailer aging population in the area. I’m also a board member on the Oakbend Hospital System.”

The Work Continues

One of the things Zerwas is most proud of this past legislative session is the work done for funding of Child Protective Services (CPS), which increased by 17 percent, bringing spending for CPS and foster care to $3.5 billion in the next cycle, up from $3 billion. “There is no greater heinous crime in our society than child abuse in my opinion,” he said.

Zerwas is equally as passionate about mental health care. “In the past three legislative sessions, your legislature has taken steps forward. I’m very proud this time. We stepped up and said our mental health hospitals are crumbling. It’s time to do something about it. We did.”

The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is also front and center and something Zerwas is working to address to ensure that Texas can recover.

Zerwas considers himself a “Christian, family driven person who is committed to improving our community and our state for the next generations of Texans.” Visit johnzerwas.com or The Texas House of Representative’s Members page at www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=28 for more information.

Representative John Zerwas

Fighting Obamacare Fighting Obamacare

• Has fought to block the implementation of Obamacare in Texas
• Has fought to protect patient’s rights from federal government intrusion
• Supports free markets and insurance reform to drive down health care costs
• Recognized by the Texas Medical Association as a “Friend of Medicine”

Securing the Border

• Supported legislation to put more state troopers and technology on the border and provide $800 million
in new funding for border security
• Co-authored House Bill 12 in the 82nd Legislature,
which would have prohibited “sanctuary cities” in Texas
• Understands the negative impacts of illegal immigration on the Texas economy and has made securing the border a top priority.

Protecting Our Elections/Voter ID

• Helped pass Texas’ Voter ID law, which helped to maintain the integrity of the electoral process in Texas

Improving Education

• Maintained his commitment to Texas students last session by adding an additional $1.5 billion for public education
• Supported legislation that reduced the number of standardized tests

Improving Higher Education

• Fought to bring a University of Houston campus to Katy
• Led successful efforts to bring a Texas State Technical College campus to Fort Bend County

Passing Property Tax Cuts

• Supported legislation to increase the homestead exemption by $10,000, which will result in a $1.2 billion tax cut for Texas homeowners. Texas voters approved  the measure on the 2015 ballot with more than 86% of the vote

Passing Business Tax Cuts

• Supported a 25% reduction to the business margins tax, resulting in a $2.6 billion tax cut for Texas businesses

Balancing Our State Budget

• Supported a state budget that leaves more than $11 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund for future emergencies

Protecting Religious Freedoms

• Supported legislation that protects pastors who refuse to perform same sex marriages
• Supported prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools

Defending The 2nd Amendment and Gun Owners

• Supported open-carry legislation
• Strongly supports the 2nd Amendment
• Proud member of the Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association

Defending Pro-Life Values

• Supported legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood
• Endorsed by Texas Alliance for Life
• Named “Courageous Defender of Life” by Texas Alliance for Life

Has fought to block the implementation of Obamacare in Texas
• Has fought to protect patient’s rights from federal government intrusion
• Supports free markets and insurance reform to drive down health care costs
• Recognized by the Texas Medical Association as a “Friend of Medicine”

Securing the Border

• Supported legislation to put more state troopers and technology on the border and provide $800 million
in new funding for border security
• Co-authored House Bill 12 in the 82nd Legislature,
which would have prohibited “sanctuary cities” in Texas
• Understands the negative impacts of illegal immigration on the Texas economy and has made securing the border a top priority.

Protecting Our Elections/Voter ID

• Helped pass Texas’ Voter ID law, which helped to maintain the integrity of the electoral process in Texas

Improving Education

• Maintained his commitment to Texas students last session by adding an additional $1.5 billion for public education
• Supported legislation that reduced the number of standardized tests

Improving Higher Education

• Fought to bring a University of Houston campus to Katy
• Led successful efforts to bring a Texas State Technical College campus to Fort Bend County

Passing Property Tax Cuts

•  Supported legislation to increase the homestead exemption by $10,000, which will result in a $1.2 billion tax cut for Texas homeowners. Texas voters approved  the measure on the 2015 ballot with more than 86%  of the vote

Passing Business Tax Cuts

• Supported a 25% reduction to the business margins tax, resulting in a $2.6 billion tax cut for Texas businesses

Balancing Our State Budget

• Supported a state budget that leaves more than $11 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund for future emergencies

Protecting Religious Freedoms

• Supported legislation that protects pastors who refuse to perform same sex marriages
• Supported prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance  in public schools

Defending The 2nd Amendment

and Gun Owners

• Supported open-carry legislation
• Strongly supports the 2nd Amendment
• Proud member of the Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association

Defending Pro-Life Values

• Supported legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood
• Endorsed by Texas Alliance for Life
• Named “Courageous Defender of Life” by Texas Alliance for Life


For more information, visit johnzerwas.com.