We have compiled a list of what we believe to be the Top 10 Texas local officials who showed extraordinary leadership in the month of June.
#1 Jose “Chito” Vela
Austin Councilmember | Austin, TX
Councilmember Jose “Chito” Vela aims to pass a resolution called the GRACE (Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone) Act to make abortion the lowest priority for criminal enforcement. He hopes the act will discourage Austin police from investigating or soliciting information about women who get abortions or those who provide abortions. The move will protect women seeking abortions from being charged with a first-degree felony. Councilmember Vela’s resolution continues to gain traction and publicity, with Councilmembers Vanessa Fuentes and Paige Ellis announcing their support of the GRACE Act.
#2 Craig Morgan
Mayor of Round Rock | Round Rock, TX
Mayor Craig Morgan issued a proclamation during the opening remarks of Round Rock’s first LBGTQ+ Pride Festival. Mayor Morgan’s proclamation said the city will not tolerate hate of any kind and celebrates diversity as one of the city’s greatest strengths. Event organizers were pleasantly surprised by the community’s interest and support and had to turn away potential vendors because of a lack of space.
#3 Josh Borderud
Waco Councilmember | Waco, TX
Councilmember Josh Borderud is spearheading Waco’s new Veterans Affairs Advisory Board. The board will coordinate with the VA and local veterans organizations to improve veterans’ services in Waco. The city attempted to create a similar board in 2006 but only got as far as passing an ordinance. Under Councilmember Berderud’s leadership, the city is trying again.
#4 Vanessa Fuentes
Austin Councilmember | Austin, TX
Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes sponsored a resolution to increase the city’s hourly wage to $22 an hour to pay a living wage to city employees so they could afford housing, food, and other basic necessities. Councilmember Fuentes’ resolution directed the city manager to propose a budget with the new wage floor and a plan to increase the hourly wage to $27 an hour in the coming years. Austin City Council last raised its hourly wage to $15 an hour in 2018.
#5 Vincent Morales
Fort Bend County Commissioner | Rosenberg, TX
After nearly six years, Commissioner Vincent Morales and other Fort Bend Commissioners Court members opened a new $10 million, 24,000-square-foot emergency operations center that will provide disaster assistance and preparation resources to almost a million residents. The facility replaces the emergency operations center that was housed in a dilapidated former jail. Commissioner Morales is credited with securing the land for the facility and collaborating with the city of Richmond and other jurisdictions in the county to build the state-of-the-art center.
#6 Paul Leal
Williamson County Constable | Taylor, TX
Constable Paul Leal was awarded the State of Texas Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Public Service for his efforts during the deadly February 2021 freeze. Forty-five days into his first term, the freeze left thousands of residents without power or water. To keep residents safe, Constable Leal helped several drivers get their vehicles back on the road, sheltered 23 people in his home, and delivered 600 pounds of food to 16 homes and 46 apartment units.
#7 Elizabeth Beck
Fort Worth Councilmember | Fort Worth, TX
Councilmember Elizabeth Beck secured unanimous council support for supplying free menstrual products in restrooms at the city’s community centers, libraries, city hall, and municipal court. The proposal was inspired by two local high school students who advocated for similar action at their school. Councilmember Beck said the proposal was about equity, dignity, and personal hygiene.
#8 Alberto Torres Jr.
Laredo Councilmember | Laredo, TX
Councilmember Alberto Torres Jr. hosted an unveiling ceremony for the “Mi Rio Grande” mural painted by artist and Laredo native Antonio “Tony” Briones III at Inner City Park. Mr. Briones painted the mural to honor his indigenous roots and the culture of the valley. Councilmember Torres financially supported the mural, along with the Rio Grande International Center, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and the Prairie Foundation.
#9 Jesse Gonzalez
Webb County Commissioner | Laredo, TX
Commissioner Jesse Gonzalez hosted three events to educate south Webb County parents on proper child car seat safety. The events taught parents the appropriate way to buckle children and how to choose the proper car seats for their children. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 46% of children on Texas roads are buckled incorrectly or their seat belts are misused which is why vehicle accidents are a leading cause of child deaths. Commissioner Gonzalez said statistics show why people must ensure they are properly securing their children.
#10 Richard F. Cortez
Hidalgo County Judge | Hidalgo County, TX
Judge Richard Cortez launched the Junior Explorer Initiative, an ecotourism program to encourage children and youth to visit parks and outdoor destinations in Hidalgo County. Children participating in the program are given a Junior Explorer Passport and encouraged to visit 10 parks in Hidalgo County where they will receive unique park stickers for their passports. Once a child collects 10 stickers, he or she will be given a surprise gift from the County Judge’s office.