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 May.
#1 Glenn Johnson
Mayor of Port Neches| Port Neches, TX
Mayor Glenn Johnson is pushing for major redevelopment in Port Neches along the Neches River. The riverfront land formerly was used for industrial purposes, but the departure of several companies from the city has left the area underutilized. In response, Mayor Johnson is leading an effort to revitalize the property with commercial and residential expansion in hopes of bringing new businesses, jobs and residents to Port Neches.
#2 Don McLaughlin
Mayor of Uvalde | Uvalde, TX
Mayor Don McLaughlin advocated for his town and the difficult situations it faces because of its proximity to the Texas-Mexico border. In May, McLaughlin argued his city is suffering due to illegal immigration and claimed the media does not accurately portray the situation at the border. After Gov. Greg Abbot refused to pass legislation to continue construction on former President Donald Trump’s border wall, Mayor McLaughlin called the governor a “fraud” and endorsed former state Senator Don Huffines for the governorship.
#3 Eric Johnson
Mayor of Dallas | Dallas, TX
Mayor Eric Johnson called upon the Biden Administration to create an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department to facilitate interactions between city leaders and foreign nations. Mayor Johnson began pursuing this idea in January 2020 by creating the Mayor’s International Advisory Council in Dallas before the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Johnson said local governments are constantly at the forefront of major international events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and international trade. As such, they are entitled to a larger role in global interactions.
#4 Lina Hidalgo
Harris County Judge | Houston, TX
Judge Linda Hidalgo wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development demanding an audit of the distribution of $1 billion of federal disaster aid for Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The latest round of distributions announced by the Texas General Land Office did not provide any federal funds to Harris County. Judge Hidalgo argued that the formula used to designate funding is intentionally designed to exclude Harris County and larger regions of much-needed recovery aid.
#5 Glen Whitley
Tarrant County Judge | Fort Worth, TX
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley sent a delegation to Austin in May to argue against the passage of Senate Bill 7 which included provisions to limit early voting hours, curtail local voting and limit voting by mail. Judge Whitley argued that elections are best handled on the county level and too many Republican Texas Legislators have forgotten the importance of local control of political processes. Tarrant County officials are concerned that strict voting regulations will adversely affect the county’s economic opportunities. After the NCAA and other major organizations pulled large events from Georgia following the passage of strict voting laws, Texas counties have speculated similar repercussions could be felt here.
#6 Ken Wilkerson
Councilmember of Killeen | Killeen, TX
Killeen Councilmember Ken Wilkerson advocated for creation of the Committee for Crime Solutions, which was supported unanimously by the Killeen City Council. The committee is charged with studying Killeen’s crime data and creating programs to reduce crime in Killeen. Wilkerson said the committee will seek solutions to reduce crime through youth programs and mentorships along with developing new channels of communication between the public and law enforcement.
#7 Mackenzie Kelly
Councilmember of Austin | Austin, TX
Austin Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly spoke in support of Austin’s Proposition B which called for a ban on public camping by people experiencing homelessness. As the lone conservative voice on the city council, Councilmember Kelly defended Proposition B as a safety measure. Citing examples set in other American cities like Seattle, she described the danger that allowing homeless communities to run unregulated could have for the public. Councilmember Kelly previously argued that her colleagues on the Austin City Council were disconnected from the reality of homelessness in Austin and the impact that homeless communities have on the public.
#8 Everardo Villarreal
Hidalgo County Commissioner | Mission, TX
Hidalgo County Commissioner Everardo Villarreal called a press conference after fires destroyed two houses within two weeks because of illegal trash burning. The media was invited to the conference at the remains of one burned home. Commissioner Villarreal warned the public of the dangers of illegal trash burning in addition to the cost incurred by taxpayers because of illegal dumping. As parts of the county are hit hard by record droughts, officials like Villarreal are making a greater effort to protect their residents.
#9 Clay Jenkins
Dallas County Judge | Dallas, TX
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins set an example for his community after his daughter became the first person under age 16 in Dallas County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine became available to youth between the ages of 12-15 in April. Judge Jenkins said his daughter volunteered to take the vaccine because she and the judge wanted to assure the community the shot was safe and would save lives. Jenkins said his daughter’s vaccination was televised so she, like her father, could demonstrate the vaccine’s safety.
#10 Yvonne Flores-Cale
Councilmember of Kyle| Kyle, TX
Councilmember Yvonne Flores-Cale spearheaded a response to Austin’s Proposition B by introducing anti-camping legislation for the City of Kyle. The legislation followed the passage of Austin’s proposition banning camping in public spaces by people experiencing homelessness. Flores-Cale said Kyle is following the examples of New Braunfels and San Marcos, arguing in favor of a begging and panhandling ban in addition to a camping ban across all areas of the city.