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 October.
#1 Clay Jenkins
Dallas County Judge | Dallas, TX
County Judge Clay Jenkins pushed to open a polling location at the county jail for those awaiting trial or serving sentences. The U.S Supreme Court previously acknowledged that detainees awaiting trial have the right to vote, unless otherwise ineligible. Judge Jenkins wanted to give people jailed the opportunity to vote, saying “74% of people in our jail have not been convicted of the crime that they’re charged with, so if they’re not currently on papers for another conviction, they’re eligible to vote.” However, Sheriff Marian Brown rejected the proposal on the grounds that the sheriff’s department did not have the resources to operate the polling location
Read more about Judge Jenkins’ accomplishments here.
#2 Eric Johnson
Mayor of Dallas | Dallas, TX
Mayor Eric Johnson advocated for the investment of $20 million in excess sales tax revenue in underserved areas in South Dallas. His plan details funding the Five Mile Creek Urban Greenbelt, a system of parks and a dozen miles of nature preserve. The plan contrasts with other council proposals that would send cash directly to households or fund rental assistance. Mayor Johnson argued the funds should be invested in long-term infrastructure and community improvement projects rather than short-term experimental programs.
#3 Vanessa Fuentes
Austin City Councilmember | Austin, TX
Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes advocated for protecting renters’ rights and allowing them to organize in the face of escalating rental rates in Austin. Councilmember Fuentes amended an ordinance to require landlords to provide tenants a document stating their rights and available resources when serving eviction notices. Councilmember Fuentes and other city leaders have said over half of Austinites are renters, yet renters’ rights are minimal and unclear. Councilmember Fuentes hopes renters no longer will fear retaliation from landlords if they attempt to organize.
Read more about Councilmember Fuentes’ accomplishments here.
#4 Jack Cagle
Harris County Commissioner | Houston, TX
Commissioner Jack Cagle has proposed a new lower tax rate plan as a compromise to a stalemate in commissioners court as it considered the county’s budget. Cagle’s proposed tax rate would raise $149 million in revenue and would fund law enforcement, the hospital district, flood control, and the commissioners court’s discretionary fund. The tax rate was proposed as an alternative to a proposal that would generate $257 million and require a hike in property taxes.
Read more about Commissioner Cagle’s accomplishments here.
#5 Melissa Cabello Havrda
San Antonio Councilmember | San Antonio, TX
Councilmember Melissa Cabello Havrda called for enhanced mental health services for first responders after six San Antonio police officers died from suicide in recent months. Those incidents underscore the mental and emotional stress emergency responders live with daily. Councilmember Havrda is chair of the Public Safety Committee and plans to address ways to offer the effective and appropriate mental health support.
#6 Adam Bazaldua
Dallas Councilmember | Dallas, TX
City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua was the lone vote against a new city ordinance which he claimed targets panhandlers. The ordinance was proposed to reduce the number of people standing in dangerous areas in medians and along highways. However, Councilmember Bazaldua believed the effort specifically targets panhandlers and would further marginalize a vulnerable group and criminalize homelessness. He cited past U.S. Supreme Court decisions that protected panhandling as a First Amendment right.
#7 Bobby Lindamood
Mayor of Colleyville | Colleyville, TX
Mayor Bobby Lindamood announced the return of a program that gives residents gift cards to support local business. Every household is eligible to receive a $35 gift card for local stores and restaurants. The city dedicates about $480,000 towards the program to encourage residents to support the local economy. Mayor Lindamond said the gift cards have been highly successful in driving business inside the city.
#8 Kathie Tovo
Austin Councilmember | Austin, TX
Councilmember Kathie Tovo sponsored a resolution directing the city manager to work with downtown businesses to reduce single-use plastics. Councilmember Tovo said the resolution is part of a larger effort to improve the health and quality of life of Austin residents by reducing the city’s environmental impact. The resolution targets single-use plastics and styrofoam containers, items which make up a large portion of the trash found in Austin’s waterways.
#9 Joel Villarreal
Rio Grande Mayor | Rio Grande, TX
Mayor Joel Villarreal called out the federal government’s inaction on the border crisis. He called for unity among Congressional Democrats and Republicans to reform the immigration system. Texas border towns have experienced an influx of immigrants forcing local and state leaders to address border security. Mayor Villarreal said the root cause for recent immigration problems lies with federal politicians. Mayor Villarreal hopes federal leaders will visit border towns so they can better understand and address problems facing the region.
#10 Rodney Ellis
Harris County Commissioner | Houston, TX
County Commissioner Rodney Ellis partnered with advocates to announce a $4.7 million Domestic Violence Assistance Fund to help victims of abuse. This effort aims to combat rising domestic violence incidents and related homicides in Harris County. The fund will assist domestic violence survivors through grants awarded to community-based organizations that serve victims.
Read more about Commissioner Ellis’ accomplishments here.