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 January.
#1 Vanessa Fuentes
Austin Councilmember | Austin, TX
Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes introduced a resolution to increase access to affordable childcare for Austin families. The resolution aims to ease zoning restrictions for childcare services and create an economic development grant program to encourage the creation and expansion of childcare facilities. Councilmember Fuentes’ resolution seeks to address the national childcare shortage on a local level and improve the city’s affordability and accessibility to parents.
#2 Andy Brown
Travis County Judge | Austin, TX
County Judge Andy Brown announced his goal of creating a Mental Health Diversion Center to address the mental health needs of people before they enter jail, as well as inmates with mental health issues. He believes the biggest challenge facing Travis County in 2023 will be managing the increase in the jail population who don’t have access to mental health care. He wants a program that provides a mental health assessment and care before people are incarcerated.
#3 Ambrosio Hernandez
Mayor of Pharr | Pharr, TX
Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez announced the expansion of the city’s high-speed broadband service into San Juan and Alamo through a partnership with the local school district. The initiative will provide affordable and reliable internet services that will eliminate the digital divide for those communities. Mayor Hernandez emphasized a reliable internet service is essential for education and employment.
#4 Clay Jenkins
Dallas County Judge | Dallas, TX
Judge Clay Jenkins voted to modify the Dallas County Jail pretrial release program to release inmates who aren’t a threat to the public while they await trial. Housing inmates who don’t threaten public safety puts a strain on jails that are near capacity. The change is the most recent in a series of local efforts to alleviate jail overcrowding. Judge Jenkins hopes the change will also save tax dollars.
#5 Sylvester Turner
Mayor of Houston | Houston, TX
Mayor Sylvester Turner kicked off the 2023 Hire Houston Youth program, providing a curated job board of paid local jobs and internships in public and private sectors as well as financial literacy training to high school and college students. Initially launched in 2016, He established the program to address racial inequities. Hire Houston Youth is part of Mayor Turner’s One Safe Houston initiative to provide outreach opportunities to youth. He aims to provide more than 15,000 jobs in 2023.
#6 Kara King
Mayor of Bee Cave| Bee Cave, TX
Mayor Kara King announced a new worker appreciation card that will provide workers in services, education and retail industries with discounts at participating businesses. The worker appreciation card previously only applied to service workers who live within the Bee Cave city limits. The new program will benefit employees who commute to the city. The change is intended to alleviate travel costs and benefit employees who are unable to afford to live in the city. The worker appreciation card is expected to assist businesses by improving employee retention.
#7 Chad West
Dallas Councilmember | Dallas, TX
Councilmember Chad West used his officeholder funds to hire a private trash collection company in response to public health concerns following a new pickup schedule. Residents complained to him about missed pickups and garbage piling up and attracting rodents. Councilmember West decided to hire an emergency pickup service for residents in multiple neighborhoods in his district.
#8 Gilbert Gonzalez
Laredo Councilmember | Laredo, TX
Councilmember Gilbert Gonzalez announced his main priority is improving Laredo’s water infrastructure. Recently, some residents have received high water bills even though they are not using more water or experiencing leaks. Councilmember Gonzalez also plans to work collaboratively with his brother, Webb County Commissioner Jesse Gonzalez, on large-scale projects.
#9 KP George
Fort Bend County Judge | Richmond, TX
County Judge KP George spoke against the proposed Senate Bill 147 at a public rally. Judge George said the bill was “racist” and would especially impact green card holders who live in Texas. The bill, which would ban nationals of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from owning land in Texas, is supported by many Republicans on the state level, including Gov. Greg Abbot.
#10 Tom Ramsey
Harris County Comissioner | Houston, TX
Commissioner Tom Ramsey opposed Harris County’s plan for climate goals for the coming decade. Commissioner Ramsey said the aggressive plan is not realistic and achievable because it does not consider costs for reducing emissions or electrical use. He voted against the proposal saying he would support a more thorough plan that could be successfully implemented.