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 December.
#1 Andy Brown
Travis County Judge | Austin, TX
County Judge Andy Brown hopes to reduce fentanyl overdose deaths in Travis County through a new health program to increase the available supply of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose when used quickly and appropriately. The program will also provide bartenders with training on administering the medication. The measures are a part of the county’s Communities in Recovery Program, which seeks to address rising overdose numbers.
#2 Tommy Calvert
Bexar County Commissioner | San Antonio, TX
County Commissioner Tommy Calvert believes the county should reevaluate procedures for disposing of old voting machines. Calvert’s stance comes after the discovery of a “mountain” of outdated voting machines in a parking lot in his district. Commissioner Calvert suggested the machines be provided to areas of Bexar County that are under-equipped for elections. The Bexar County Elections Office said the obsolete machines had been returned to the manufacturer for parts and recycling before being rediscovered by Commissioner Calvert.
#3 Omar Narvaez
Dallas Councilmember | Dallas, TX
Councilmember Omar Narvaez advocated for removing barriers for residents seeking home repairs through the city’s financial assistance program. The West Dallas Targeted Rehab Program allows residents to apply for assistance in funding their home repairs, but until recently required applicants to have home insurance to qualify for the program. Councilmember Narvaez argued that possessing home insurance was not feasible for many of the program’s target groups, such as senior citizens living on fixed incomes or those affected by natural disasters.
#4 Oscar Leeser
Mayor of El Paso | El Paso, TX
Mayor Oscar Leeser publicly restated his faith in El Paso’s nonprofit community after allegations from Gov. Greg Abbott that some nonprofits may be helping migrants enter the country illegally. Gov. Abbott called on the Texas Attorney General to investigate his claims. With the repeal of Title 42, a federal law, which made it easier to expel immigrants, Mayor Lesser expects an influx of immigrants who will need the services of El Paso’s nonprofits.
#5 William Ferguson
Sugar Land Councilmember| Sugar Land, TX
Councilmember William Ferguson pushed for funding changes to Sugar Land’s proposed Great Homes Update Program. The program would reimburse residents up to 25% of the costs for street-facing home improvements. Councilmember Ferguson said he would not support the project because it used property tax revenue generated from low-income residents yet did not include them in the revitalization program.
#6 Javier Joven
Mayor of Odessa | Odessa, TX
Mayor Javier Joven emphasized the need to “return to basics” in announcing his plans for Odessa in 2023. Mayor Joven outlined his goals related to water infrastructure, roads, trash collection, and first responders’ pay to make Odessa a safer and cleaner city in the new year. Mayor Joven also wants the city’s government to be more “transparent” and visible within the community.
#7 Randy Feldschau
Beaumont Councilmember | Beaumont, TX
Councilmember Randy Feldschau organized converting two city buses into mobile warming stations to help people experiencing homelessness during freezing weather. The warming stations ensured Beaumont residents without homes had a warm place to stay. Councilmember Feldschau hoped to empty homeless camps by taking the mobile shelters to those residents rather than requiring them to go to shelters to escape severe weather.
#8 Carolyn Evans-Shabazz
Houston Councilmember | Houston, TX
Councilmember Carolyn Evans-Shabazz advocated for her district’s residents by questioning the addition of bike lanes and reducing vehicle lanes and street parking in a county-led road project. After the project’s first phase was completed, Councilmember Shabazz held a townhall meeting to ensure concerned residents and business owners were heard before the next phase begins. She said her constituents had not had sufficient opportunity to give input on the project.
#9 Robert Gallegos
Houston Councilmember | Houston, TX
Councilmember Robert Gallegos’ three-year effort to address the affordable housing shortage in Houston moved forward with council approval of a $43 million housing project. The project will reserve 80% of available units for Houston residents making below 60% of the median household income. Additionally, residents of the complex will have priority access to an on-site pre-kindergarten school.
#10 Eric Garza
Cameron County Sheriff | Harlingen, TX
Sheriff Eric Garza is seeking detention center upgrades to address employee retention and public safety. Sheriff Garza believed a recent attempted escape from a detention center could have been prevented if the facility had upgraded fencing and technology with guaranteed maintenance and sufficient staff. With these upgrades, Sheriff Garza hopes to provide a safer and secure facility for inmates and jailers.