February: 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 February.

#1 Paige Ellis

Councilmember of Austin| Austin, TX

Councilmember Paige Ellis rose to the occasion in Austin when citizens lost both power and water. Councilmember Ellis coordinated with local bars and venues to locate and later distribute bottled water throughout the community. Drawing upon her knowledge of the Austin water distribution system, Councilmember Ellis targeted areas of the city that would be worst affected by the boil notice and personally stood in the cold for hours distributing water. Later, Councilmember Ellis continued to help her community by sharing water-outage-related information and help through her social media. 

#2 Willie Rios

Councilmember of South Houston| South Houston, TX

When temperatures dropped below freezing, Councilmember Willie Rios immediately began looking for ways to help citizens in his community. Councilmember Rios personally drove around South Houston with buckets of water helping citizens with frozen pipes and shut off water. As more people continued to call, Councilmember Rios spent his day driving from house to house helping in whatever way he could. 

#3 Adam Bazaldua

Councilmember of Dallas | Dallas, TX

Councilmember Adam Bazaldua coordinated with local Dallas organizations to deliver groceries to Dallas citizens in need. After his work on the ground, Councilmember Bazaldua turned his attention towards the parties responsible for Dallas’ power outages. Councilmember Bazaldua spoke strongly against the lack of information given to city officials regarding the outages and pressed local utility companies to provide funding for families facing unreasonably high electrical bills from the storm. 

#4 Greg Casar

Councilmember of Austin | Austin, TX

After the winter storm subsided, Councilmember Greg Casar asked that a list of all complexes without power be created to specifically target areas in need of potable and non-potable water. Councilmember Casar also asked the city to find ways to support households that require repairs and to help ensure that repairs are done correctly. After demanding the city create a citywide food operation, Casar participated in locating and collecting perishables and items for local food banks and organizations to distribute to Austin citizens. 

#5 Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Judge | Houston, TX

Prior to the winter storm hitting Texas, Judge Hidalgo was one of the few Texas elected officials who accurately predicted its impact on Houston. Hidalgo compared the storm to a magnitude 5 hurricane— an analogy that both put the storm into perspective and prompted many Houston locals to prepare for disaster. Throughout the storm, Judge Hidalgo provided crucial information, especially to Spanish-speaking citizens, about blackouts, freezing pipes, and water boils. Prior to the storm, Judge Hidalgo launched her ‘Stay Smart, Do Your part’ campaign which targeted the under-vaccinated Black and Latino population of Houston through information campaigns and advertising. 

#6 Barbara Canales

Nueces County Judge | Corpus Christi, TX

After the winter storm left Corpus Christi in a food shortage, Judge Barbara Canales penned a letter to HEB requesting a distribution site be located near the city. The additional step would prevent shelves from emptying if future disasters were to block roads once again. Prior to the storm, Judge Canales spearheaded efforts to vaccinate Nueces County teachers. The county vaccinated over 500 teachers in the 1A and 1B categories prior to President Joe Biden’s administration’s announcement that teachers would be added to the 1B category. 

#7 Sylvester Turner

Mayor of Houston | Houston, TX

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s social media feed served as a constant and up-to-date news source throughout the winter storm. In addition to warnings about road conditions and information about Houston’s warming centers, Mayor Turner was one of Texas’ first elected officials to announce that blackouts would not be “rolling.” Mayor Turner cautioned citizens that they could lose power for several days at a time, and for those with power to prepare to lose it. In the wake of the storm, Mayor Turner implemented a winter storm relief fund to aid citizens in paying for home repairs and other storm-related expenses. 

#8 Steve Adler

Mayor of Austin | Austin, TX

As rumors began to spread last February that Governor Greg Abbott would end the state mask mandate, Mayor Steve Adler wrote a joint letter with Travis County Judge Andy Brown, asking the governor to reconsider his decision. Mayor Adler cited Austin’s low vaccinations as evidence that the state is not prepared to roepen. Mayor Adler later announced that the City of Austin would maintain its mask requirements through the summer, regardless of Governor Abbott’s decision.

#9 Bill Gravell

Williamson County Judge | Georgetown, TX

Following the Austin City Council’s efforts to create a “hotel for the homeless” in Williamson County, Judge Bill Gravell launched a fight against Austin over the hotel’s placement. According to Judge Gravell, Austin city officials did not inform Williamson County throughout the process and blindsided the judge by choosing a hotel outside Travis County. The disagreement has drawn attention from across the political hierarchy as both Attorney General Ken Paxton and State Sen. Charles Schwertner have weighed in to defend Williamson County. 

#10 Jeff Griffith

Councilmember of Lubbock | Lubbock, TX

As Lubbock continued its negotiations to join the ERCOT power grid, Councilmember Jeff Griffith voiced his concerns with the plan. Councilmember Griffith stated that if ERCOT does not improve its system in the wake of February’s winter storm, the transition may be stopped. Councilmember Griffith’s sentiments have been echoed by several Lubbock citizens who worry Texas’ power infrastructure may not be the best choice for the city.