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 Ann Kitchen
Councilmember of Austin | Austin, TX
Councilmember Ann Kitchen spearheaded a resolution to help with Austin’s growing homeless population: the HEAL (Homeless Encampment Assistance Link) initiative. The initiative’s goals are to provide a path to permanent housing and ensure that nobody lives in unsheltered and unsafe conditions. Councilmember Kitchen stated the initiative “represents an effective addition to the valuable efforts that our homeless service partners and city staff are currently pursuing in our community.” The initiative offers a sharp contrast to the ongoing Save Austin Now campaign which seeks to ban homeless camping.
#2 Dr. Marte Martinez
Councilmember of Laredo | Laredo, TX
Councilmember Dr. Marte Martinez voted in favor of sending a new COVID-related petition to Governor Greg Abbott— a choice which city lawyers claim could be illegal. Councilmember Martinez stated, “they can arrest me if they want to.” The petition calls for more vaccines in Laredo and the ability to enforce new restrictions. Councilmember Martinez said that protecting the citizens of Laredo is his top priority. He decided to forgo the legal advice presented to the city council in favor of acting now by placing public safety over legal complications.
#3 Adam Bazaldua
Councilmember of Dallas | Dallas, TX
Councilmember Adam Bazaldua fought to rename a Dallas street to “Botham Jean Boulevard” after a black man who was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer in 2018. Councilmember Bazaldua began the process last summer by submitting a memorandum for the name change to the city manager. While met with initial resistance from other councilmembers, the vote passed unanimously following a speech given by Councilmember Bazaldua.
#4 Eric Fagan
Fort Bend County Sherrif | Missouri City, TX
Sheriff Eric Fagan launched a program called “Take Me Home” that is designed to improve encounters between law enforcement and cognitively impaired individuals. As part of the program, members of the community will create profiles for cognitively impaired loved ones that will better prepare officers to respond to a situation. The initiative follows Sheriff Fagan’s recent campaign promise to put more resources into mental health response and training.
#5 Javier Joven
Mayor of Odessa | Odessa, TX
Mayor Javier Joven took a bold stance against abortion by announcing that Odessa is seeking to become a “sanctuary for the unborn.” The decision places Odessa alongside 17 other Texas cities with the designation. The change is an effort to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade by preventing abortion clinics from operating within the city. The vote on the ordinance has yet to pass, but local activists for the anti-abortion movement are eager to see Odessa join the ranks of similar cities across Texas.
#6 Ginger Nelson
Mayor of Amarillo | Amarillo, TX
Mayor Ginger Nelson announced her plans to install a citywide high-speed internet program as she prepares to run for reelection. Infrastructure is a top priority for Mayor Nelson, and she intends to go beyond road improvements and physical projects to improve the city. The Internet services will be added to the list of essential services provided by the city, improving both quality of life and the city’s economy. Should the proposal go through, Amarillo would become one of the largest cities to provide quality high-speed internet services.
#7 Ruben Becerra
Hays County Judge | San Marcos, TX
Judge Ruben Becerra created the “Council for the Indigenous and Tejano Community” to address the under-told and untold stories of Indigenous and Tejano people in Hays County. The council hopes to preserve the history, traditions, and culture of indigenous and Tejano people through oral histories, written stories, cultural education, and art projects. Judge Becerra hopes the move will help empower a historically marginalized part of the Hays County community.
#8 Eric Johnson
Mayor of Dallas | Dallas, TX
Mayor Eric Johnson released photos of himself receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and to encourage those who qualify for the vaccine to seek one out. Mayor Johnson particularly emphasized the impact of COVID on Black and Hispanic communities and the need for an equitable distribution of vaccines. As more vaccination sites become available to the public, Mayor Johnson wants to see greater community outreach and participation.
#9 Curtis Parrish
Lubbock County Judge | Lubbock, TX
Judge Curtis Parrish led a push to increase funding for the Lubbock County Fire Department. Judge Parrish acknowledged the county’s growth and the invaluable service the fire department provides and said that the increased spending will help protect and modernize the volunteer firefighting crew. Judge Parrish promised the department will continue to see greater support in the coming years.
#10 Sylvester Turner
Mayor of Houston | Houston, TX
Mayor Sylvester Turner advocated for his constituents by visiting a local burger restaurant to show support after the establishment was attacked by anti-maskers. Mayor Turner and hundreds of others visited the establishment. Turner said, “We’re not going to let you hurt this business or any other business, especially when the businesses are doing the right thing to protect you, me, and everybody else.”