April: Top 10 Texas Local Officials

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 April.

#1 KP George

Fort Bend Judge | Richmond, TX

Judge KP George continued advocating for his Fort Bend County constituents in April. The judge’s office announced the creation of a mobile vaccination unit intended to help vaccinate the underserved parts of Fort Bend County. The mobile unit is one of only a few units like it in Texas. The county also is partnering with Meals on Wheels to vaccinate homebound seniors. Judge George also announced the creation of the Fort Bend Youth Leadership Council, a program which pairs youth interested in policy with elected officials, spiritual leaders, and community leaders to help organize for policy change. Finally, Judge George released a statement against Texas Senate Bill 7, a bill that would dramatically restrict voting access, and similar legislation around the country. Judge George emphasized the bipartisan work which takes place in Fort Bend County and described SB 7 as “draconian” and “Jim Crow.”

#2 Candice Quarles

Councilmember of DeSoto | Desoto, TX

Councilmember Candice Quarles led the DeSoto City Council in passing a Ban-the-Box policy. The policy bans employers from asking questions about former convictions on job applications. Quarles argued the questions unnecessarily restrict people’s access to work based on past events instead of focusing on their qualifications. She added that given the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, measures that expand the people’s ability to find work are more important than ever.

#3 Wawi Tijerina

Webb County Commissioner| Laredo, TX

Commissioner Wawi Tijerina has dedicated her 14 years on the Webb County Commissioners court to improving the quality of life of her community. She recently made significant strides in this sphere with the opening of Webb County’s first public health facility for Quad City residents. The facility will serve residents of Bruni, Oilton, Mirando City, and Alguilares who previously had to drive to Laredo for medical assistance.

#4 Shannon Thomason

Mayor of Big Spring | Big Spring, TX

Mayor Shannon Thomason led the Big Spring City Council in passing a resolution to make the city a Second Amendment stronghold. The resolution is largely symbolic and a way for Mayor Thomas to signal to his constituents that he supports their Second Amendment rights. Mayor Thomas described Second Amendment rights as key to protecting First Amendment rights. A future council will be able to strengthen the resolution beyond a symbolic gesture.

#5 Rodney Ellis

Harris County Commissioner | Houston, TX

County Commissioner Rodney Ellis criticized Harris County Flood Control District’s plan for allocating flood relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The county’s plan prioritized affluent areas over poorer neighborhoods and represented “the dangerous, inequitable funding formulas of the past.” When county flood district officials revealed the funding was $1 billion short of the initial $2.5 billion promised, Ellis reminded the flood district’s executive director of his responsibilities and demanded he find the money.

#6 Andy Eads

Denton County Judge | Denton, TX

County Judge Andy Eads has played a prominent role in the relocation of a Confederate statue in front of the Denton County Courthouse. Discussion surrounding the fate of the statue began after the statue was moved to storage in June 2020. A portion of the statue will be moved inside the county’s Courthouse-on-the-Square museum. Judge Eads acknowledged the importance the statue has to some members of the community and guaranteed its preservation within a historical context inside the museum. The Texas Historical Commission chair described Denton County’s process as a model for the rest of the state in addressing Confederate memorials.

#7 Richard Wiles

El Paso County Sheriff | El Paso, TX

Sheriff Richard Wiles unveiled El Paso County’s new Crisis Intervention Unit, a specially trained unit that responds to mental health crises. The unit has already seen success, responding to nearly 40 calls in April in which regular law enforcement strategies would have been less effective. The new unit was created in the wake of calls for policing reforms around the nation and shows the potential of such alternative policing strategies.

#8 Sylvester Turner

Mayor of Houston| Houston, TX

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced several changes within the Houston Police Department that focus on transparency. The changes include timelines for releasing body camera footage and a “policing dashboard” which displays the city’s policing statistics online. The changes were recommended by the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Reform which was formed in June of 2020 after the death of Houston native George Floyd in Minneapolis.

#9 Jeffrey W. Travillion

Travis County Commissioner | Austin, TX

County Commissioner Jeffrey W. Travillion released a strongly worded statement condemning national and state efforts to restrict voting access. The commissioner shared his own experiences growing up in the South with educated parents and a father who was an Army veteran who was denied the right to vote based on the color of their skin. He ended the statement by imploring that representatives “choose the principles of fairness, not power.”

#10 Shirley McKellar

Councilmember of Tyler | Tyler, TX

Councilmember Shirley McKellar helped organize a vaccination clinic that targeted Black and brown residents of Tyler. McKellar described the effort as “carrying vaccines to the community, rather than the community having to go to where the vaccines are.” The clinic is another step in McKellar’s efforts towards improving equity in Tyler. 

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