After graduating from Sonora High School in Sonora, Texas, Bill Ratliff (1937-) attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a civil engineering degree. He was named a distinguished graduate of the School of Engineering in 1990. A consulting civil engineer for 30 years, he owns his own firm in Mt. Pleasant. He is married to Sally Sandlin Ratliff and has three children and eight grandchildren.
He entered public service in 1988 when he was first elected as senator from District 1 (Mt. Pleasant). During his distinguished legislative career, Ratliff was named one of the state's Ten Best Legislators five times by Texas Monthly magazine. He built a reputation for tackling critical issues from public education to the state budget.
In 1992, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock named Ratliff chair of the Senate Education Committee and for the next four years, he was the state's leader in crafting public education legislation helping institute higher standards and greater accountability in public education.
From 1997 to 1998 Ratliff was Senate President pro tempore. On December 28, 2000, after a tight contest, Ratliff was elected acting Lieutenant Governor by his fellow members of the Texas Senate to fill the vacancy created when Rick Perry became Governor after the selection of George W. Bush as President. It was the first time in Texas history that senators exercised their constitutional duty to elect one of their own as Lieutenant Governor and president of the Senate.
Ratliff entered the race for Lieutenant Governor in 2002 but subsequently withdrew. He continued his service in the Senate during the regular session and three contentious special sessions of the 78th Legislature in 2003 before announcing his retirement in 2004.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: link: Senate archives.