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 October.
#1 Manny Pelaez
San Antonio Councilmember | San Antonio, TX
Councilmember Manny Pelaez introduced three proposals to the city council to help identify and reduce cases of domestic violence in San Antonio. His proposals are specific and implementable throughout the community and respond to constituents who seek increased awareness of domestic violence. The proposals include classroom instruction on topics of domestic violence, trafficking, and child abuse; required signage in public spaces offering prevention resources; and required distribution of relevant information from city organizations and departments. Councilmember Pelaez said Domestic Violence Awareness Month should not be limited to the month of October, but rather a cause that is continually addressed.
#2 Paige Ellis
Councilmember of Austin | Austin, TX
Councilmember Paige Ellis was the lead sponsor of the Abortion Access Resolution, allowing the city manager to allocate resources to support lawsuits opposing the Texas Heartbeat Bill (SB8). The approved resolution encourages local businesses to join the City of Austin in opposing SB8 which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. The law prohibits abortions once cardiac activity is detected and allows citizens to sue medical providers who perform abortions after six weeks gestation. Councilmember Ellis participated in a press conference to discuss SB8 and her resolution, arguing against Texas’ most restrictive abortion ban to date.
#3 Joe Rathmell
Zapata County Judge | Zapata County, TX
County Judge Joe Rathmell was the lone vote against a controversial pay raise approved by the Zapata County Commissioners Court. The court gave all county elected officials a significant raise in annual salary and puts the county budget further in debt. Judge Rathmell is declining the pay raise for fiscal year 2022, arguing that the increases were in poor judgment on part of the commissioners court.
#4 Rebeca Clay-Flores
Bexar County Commissioner | Bexar County, TX
Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores secured $400,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to bring water to families in south Bexar County. Commissioner Clay-Flores advocated for residents who live on an unpaved road and have had no access to water and power. Commissioner Clay-Flores’ efforts will improve the quality of life and safety of residents while not raising property taxes for Bexar County residents.
#5 Ricardo Samaniego
El Paso County Judge | El Paso County, TX
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced his plan to vaccinate about 35,000 Juarez youth with unused vaccines to improve the health of both communities once the port of entry reopens. Judge Samaniego said healthcare workers will have youth, ages 12 to 17, bused to the Tornillo Port of Entry for their injections. During the summer, Judge Samaniego worked with Juarez authorities in a binational effort to vaccinate more than 30,000 maquiladora workers in the border community. Judge Samaniego said the Juarez government will pick up the $1 million tab for the vaccinations.
#6 Tommy Calvert
Bexar County Commissioner | Bexar County, TX
Commissioner Tommy Calvert announced efforts to address the increased severity of flooding in east Bexar County by proposing new regulations for developments and mitigation efforts with county engineers. Before the deaths of a woman and child at a high water crossing a week prior, Commissioner Calvert had already begun meeting with residents to discuss how the floodplain is changing. To avoid spending money on costly bridges, Commissioner Calvert proposed building automatic crossing barriers to enhance the safety of existing roads during flooding.
#7 Rick Koch
Mayor Pro Tem of Kyle | Kyle, TX
Mayor Pro Tem Rick Koch spoke in favor of renewing Kyle’s system of subsidizing Uber rides for its residents. The subsidized rides allow residents to travel anywhere within the city limits for $3.14 and helps address the lack of public transportation options in the city. The city council approved the partnership with Uber in 2020 after calls mounted for public transportation options. Kyle is growing at a record pace and is set to overtake San Marcos as the fastest-growing city in Hays County. Mayor Koch said the Uber Kyle program is promising in a city like Kyle because of its growth and the opportunities it allows for local businesses.
#8 Bruno Lozano
Mayor of Del Rio | Del Rio, TX
Mayor Bruno Lozano, Del Rio’s youngest and first openly gay mayor, was featured in HBO’s drag show ‘We’re Here.’ Representing the queer community in the small border town, Mayor Lozano performed in drag as the late Mexican American singer Selena. The show aims to provide an alternative to the usual depiction of LGBTQ people in conservative states. The show, organized by famous drag queens, intentionally features cities and towns like Del Rio, which are not usually thought of as hot spots for the gay community.
#9 Lina Hidalgo
Harris County Judge | Harris County, TX
Judge Lina Hidalgo honored Kareem Atkins, a Harris County Deputy Constable who was shot and killed while working an off-duty security job, by declaring Oct. 25 as “Deputy Kareem Atkins Day.” Atkins was fatally shot and two other deputy constables were wounded in an ambush outside a bar. Judge Hidalgo said she wanted to recognize Atkins’ heroism and service by declaring Oct. 25, the day of Atkin’s funeral, a county holiday. She said an attack on a law enforcement member is an attack on the community. Atkins is survived by his wife and two children.
#10 Jack Cagle
Harris County Commissioner | Harris County, TX
Commissioner Jack Cagle publicly said he is prepared to sue Harris County over the recent redistricting map which he claims was adopted as retribution for his opposition to tax increases in Harris County. Commissioner Cagle, one of two Republicans on the Harris County Commissioners Court, claims the redrawn maps will rob constituents of their voice on the court. In being redistricted to a precinct he has not served, the commissioner’s election chances are at risk in the upcoming election and may result in a loss of Republican representation of Harris County residents.