December: 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 December.

#1 Ken DeMerchant

Fort Bend Commissioner | New Territory, TX

Commissioner Ken DeMerchant of New Territory has repeatedly advocated for small business owners in Fort Bend County. In December, DeMerchant pushed for $2 million in federal relief to be allocated for small businesses and non-profits, which commissioners unanimously approved.  DeMerchant also advocated in advance of the 87th session of the Texas Legislature for expanding voter rights. This would allow voters to track their votes by mail, register to vote electronically, automatically register voters when obtaining a driver’s license, and by bringing back straight-ticket voting to Fort Bend County.

#2 Sylvester Turner

Mayor of Houston| Houston , TX

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced an initiative to restore the urban prairie. ‘The Urban Prairie Resiliency Project’ will restore eight acres of grasslands at New Hope Housing and Star of Hope’s Cornerstone Community Campus — an affordable housing development in South Houston. The outdoor space will improve stormwater retention and serve as a wildlife habitat and recreational space. The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs also distributed $5 million to the creative community to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic after music and art venues closed. An additional relief fund of $1,200 per citizen was approved for Houston’s residents that the mayor emphasized was free to use without stipulation.

#3 Victoria Farrar-Myers

Councilmember of Arlington | Arlington, TX

Councilmember Victoria Farrar-Myers has consistently displayed her dedication to provide affordable housing and combating homelessness in Arlington. Dr. Farrar-Myers has served in several notable leadership positions, addressing homelessness and affordable housing as chair of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalitions Continuum of Care Board of Directors. In December, the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition awarded her the Community Champion Award. Dr. Farrar-Myers has been commended for her strong leadership, personal engagement, and data-driven approach to affordable housing and homelessness. 

#4 Tenell Atkins

Dallas City Councilmember | Dallas, TX

Councilmember Tenell Atkins has worked for months coordinating various city parties to remove Dallas’ infamous “Shingle Mountain.” The removal of the 70,000-ton dump has been long-awaited by citizens of Atkins’ district and required a coordinated effort between the city, state, and private contractors. For more than three years, South Dallas citizens have complained about the landfill. With Atkins’ leadership, the landmark will be removed. The project will both provide jobs and remove an infamous eyesore and environmental detriment. 

#5 Ron Nirenberg

Mayor of San Antonio | San Antonio, TX

San Antonio became the first city in the U.S to incorporate telemedicine into its 911 call system. Mayor Ron Nirenberg praised the system as an innovative measure that will save taxpayer dollars, city resources, and lives. The telemedicine system also will decrease first responders’ exposure to COVID-19 by reducing the number of emergency units dispatched. The project is in conjunction with the San Antonio Fire Department and will greatly benefit both civilians and first-responders, while potentially setting a precedent for other major cities.

#6 Dillon Meek

Mayor of Waco | Waco, TX

As Waco has continued to enter the suburban spotlight, Mayor Dillon Meek has aided the city’s financial growth. In December, the Waco City Council accepted a $3.9 million bid to build a two-way road through the city’s downtown. The project has been a goal of Mayor Meeks for more than five years and should ensure the success of many local businesses. With the town’s growing tourism industry, the downtown area is in need of a major overhaul to accommodate businesses and visitors to Waco, in addition to creating more job opportunities. 

#7 Brent Chesney

Nueces County Commissioner | Corpus Christi, TX

In December, Nueces County Commissioners approved a project to demolish and rebuild Corpus Christi’s Bob Hall Pier which was destroyed by Hurricane Hanna. Commissioner Chesney was a key player in getting the project underway and pushed for a public ad-hoc committee to oversee the reconstruction. Completely rebuilding the pier was considered a risky move, but Chesney believes it will ultimately pay off for the community, particularly in terms of tourism.

#8 Tim Davis

Mayor of Temple | Temple, TX

Mayor Tim Davis spoke on the first anniversary of the death of Michael Dean, an unarmed black man who was shot by Temple police in December 2019. Officer Carmen Decruz has been charged with manslaughter. Mayor Davis announced the formation of two minority-based citizen advisory councils to improve communication between the community and police department. Mayer Davis emphasized the importance of communication between minority communities and the city. The goal of these boards will provide a dialogue between law enforcement and the community. The move has been praised by community leaders who criticized the City Council’s initial silence after the death of Micheal Dean. 

#9 Floyd Emery

Councilmember of Missouri City | Missouri City, TX

Councilmember Floyd Emery spoke in support of Missouri City’s new civil service law which amended the processes for punishing law enforcement officers. Councilmember Emery said the law’s adoption prevents officers from being disciplined without good cause. Emery said the new system will ensure allegations against officers are given proper scrutiny and are substantiated by facts, rather than “innuendo or social media postings .”

#10 Steve Adler

Mayor of Austin | Austin, TX

Mayor Steve Adler announced an extension of his previous order regarding tenants and extension notices because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders will last until Feb. 1st, 2021. Landlords are prohibited from issuing Notices to Vacate involving residential and commercial evictions. Eviction hearings also will not take place under the order until Feb. 1st, 2021. Additionally, in his end-of-year holiday message, the Mayor said he applauded and appreciated the efforts of the community in such difficult times and encouraged people to continue to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. Mayor Adler came under scrutiny in December after traveling to Mexico for a family vacation. The trip took place as Austin entered record numbers of COVID-19 cases and brought Adler’s pandemic-related leadership into question.