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 March.
#1 Sylvester Turner
Mayor of Houston | Houston, TX
Mayor Turner signed an executive order calling for the inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses among Houston’s pool of certified companies, thus ensuring they have equal access to contracting and procurement opportunities throughout the city. This executive order made Houston the first city in Texas and one of the largest in the U.S. to create an initiative to intentionally expand its inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses in municipal contracting procurement opportunities.
In addition, following the recent violent attacks in Atlanta, in which eight people were gunned down, many of whom were Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders, Mayor Turner requested that the Houston Police Department increase patrols near homes and businesses in Houston’s Asian communities. Mayor Turner condemned the shooting and encouraged Houstonians to do their part to make AAPI residents feel safe.
#2 Jim Darling
Mayor of McAllen | McAllen, TX
As national news outlets repeatedly featured headlines describing a “crisis at the border,” Mayor Jim Darling presented an alternative interpretation of the country’s immigration situation. Mayor Darling described the situation as a “crisis in Washington,” where three successive administrations have failed to find a solution to the nation’s influx of unaccompanied minors and undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border. Darling went on to criticize the administration’s lack of preparation for the recent surge in immigration and suggested the solution is greater federal support for cities on both sides of the border.
#3 Greg Casar
Councilmember of Austin | Austin, TX
Councilmember Greg Casar voiced his concerns last March regarding the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans to rebuild an eight-mile stretch of Interstate 35 which cuts through his district. While TXDOT’s plans drew a general outcry from the Austin City Council, Casar personally described the preexisting divisions created by the highway within his district and emphasized the impact highway expansion would have upon furthering those divisions. Casar elaborated that the proposed plan not only exacerbated the East-West divide but also failed to address the root causes of highway traffic within Austin.
#4 Rebeca Clay-Flores
Bexar County Commissioner | San Antonio, TX
Councilmember Rebeca Clay-Flores was the only Texas county commissioner to visit one of the new facilities opened by the federal government to provide temporary shelter to immigrant teens. Clay-Flores defended the shelter as a humanitarian effort, not a political issue. Clay-Flores further answered questions from her constituents and cleared misconceptions regarding the city’s role in the shelter and the shelter’s funding source.
#5 Steve Adler
Mayor of Austin | Austin, TX
Mayor Steve Adler publicly voiced his opposition to Governor Abbot’s repeal of the statewide mask mandate and saw that Austin went the furthest of any major Texas city in continue to enforce its local mask requirements. Adler’s decision to keep the city’s mask mandate after Abbot’s repeal came under instant fire from the Governor. While it is unknown how long the city’s mandate will last, it has survived the courts through March. Adler’s refusal to follow state mask guidelines is the latest in a slew of Austin city policies meant to directly oppose Abbot’s policy directives.
#6 Ron Niremberg
Mayor of San Antonio | San Antonio, TX
Throughout the month of March, Mayor Niremberg fought to protect his vision of the Alamo Plaza and preserve the district’s historic landmarks. To accomplish this, Mayor Niremberg replaced former committee member Roberto Treviño, who opposed Niremberg’s plans, with Councilmember Rebecca Viagran and added two additional Black civil rights historians to the advisory committee. Nuremberg’s intent to preserve the plaza’s Woolworth building has been praised by civil rights leaders in San Antonio who value the location for its role as the first peacefully desegregated lunch counter in the South.
#7 Jeff Williams
Mayor of Arlington | Arlington, TX
In March the City of Arlington was awarded the City Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities. Arlington was chosen to receive the award because of Mayor Jeff William’s innovative “Unity Council” which formed in July 2020. The council worked towards developing equity policies for the City of Arlington and has recently submitted its findings to the Arlington City Council. Mayor Williams has expressed his excitement to see the committee’s work progress from conceptual findings to practical implantation. Arlington is only one of four major cities to be recognized by the National League of Cities with this award nationwide.
#8 KP George
Fort Bend County Judge | Richmond, TX
In an effort to help feed his community, County Judge KP George partnered with Sewa/USA and Topo Chico to host two food distribution events in late March. Additionally, George announced the county’s latest endeavor to ease the financial burden of COVID-19 on Fort Bend families. George says that families financially impacted by the pandemic will be eligible to receive $500 for each child, for up to three children, within a household. This endeavor is meant to help offset the burden of childcare cost.
#9 Betsy Price
Mayor of Fort Worth | Fort Worth, TX
At the beginning of March Mayor Betsy Price publicly called Gov. Greg Abbot’s repeal of the statewide mask mandate “premature.” Price said while the state is trending towards recovery, it is still too early to repeal the safety precautions which are vital to that positive trajectory. Mayor Price called upon Fort Worth residents to continue the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and further called upon the governor to increase the availability of vaccines to Texans in the wake of his decision to open the state. The state opened vaccinations to all Texas residents above 16 several weeks after Mayor Price’s comments.
#10 Javier Joven
Mayor of Odessa | Odessa, TX
In the wake of Gov. Greg Abbot’s controversial repeal of the statewide mask mandate, Mayor Javier Joven expressed support for the decision and his readiness to return to in-person meetings. Mayor Joven says in-person meetings give council members and residents more opportunities to interact. He also said COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased since November. Mayor Joven attributes this decline to smart personal choices which he expects will continue even without a statewide ordinance.