Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: Simply The Best Mayor for Houston
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 12/27/2023, 3:42 p.m.
For the past eight years Sylvester Turner has been living a dream he has been chasing since 1991. Being the mayor of a city he has loved so deeply all his life and helping all citizens of this community has been his purpose. Like any incoming mayor, Turner made his promises and had his challenges. He has done his best to tackle the issues through the red tape and all the obstacles. With his share of ups and downs Turner left his mark on Houston and made the city better for its residents.
On January 2, 2016, with his left hand on the Bible and his right hand held up, Turner took on the mammoth responsibility to be Houston’s 62nd and the city’s second African American mayor. One of his first tasks was to address the pothole issue; a problem that has been extremely costly for drivers. Although some thought road repair to be a low priority in comparison to all the city’s problems, Turner knew it was a top priority for voters fulfilling one of his campaigns.
`Promises within his first few months in office.
Putting the needs of Houstonians first has always been at the forefront of Mayor Turner’s mind as he went down the checklist to improve the fourth largest city in the nation. Each mayor of Houston has had the challenge of balancing the city’s finances. Mayor Turner was no different in that retrospect. However, what is different for his administration is how he is leaving the with the highest net position in 20 years according to the most recent Annual Comprehensive Financial Report; a feather in Mayor Turner’s hat for his many policy reforms.
Finding a permanent police chief was another lofty goal that Mayor Turner thought he would have to do once. Immediately making Martha Montalvo interim police chief after the retirement of Chief Charles McClelland, it would be almost a year before Art Acevedo was named as the top head of the brass. In his second term, Mayor Turner found himself searching for a new police chief once again after Chief Acevedo accepted another position. The next chief had to be one who had the respect of the community and other officers and the mindset to keep Houstonians safe. That man was Troy Finner. His quiet and strong demeanor has ushered in a better balanced relationship between the community and officers resulting in better community policing, reducing crime, mentoring youth, reducing costs, and enhancing department productivity. Turner also initiated a One Safe Houston Initiative to buyback guns when a spike in crime happened, combat domestic violence and mental health issues.
Houston had more problems than Turner had time to handle. One problem always followed another with many obstacles standing in the way of solutions. Goals to improve infrastructure, flooding, and more came with the hurdles of Hurricane Harvey, Winter Storm Uri, and COVID. . Although the city adopted a Climate Action Plan and a Resilient Houston Plan, Turner admitted that those plans were mere steps in the right direction to help with weather related problems but not the end of what ultimately needed to be done.
Affordable housing became an even bigger issue after COVID and the city’s weather related disasters when homes couldn’t be repaired, and businesses couldn’t afford to reopen. In all this chaos under the Turner administration, Houston was able to garner national recognition for reducing the homeless population by providing more than housing but making them affordable as well according to Houston Public Media.
One of his proudest accomplishments was his Complete Communities initiative designed to revitalize and improve Houston's most under-served neighborhoods to give the residents access to resources to create a better city for all Houstonians. Along with his Hire Houston Youth program to provide jobs and internship opportunities for thousands of young people and the plan to improve neighborhood parks and expand Houston's technology and innovation footprint.
Mayor Turner’s legacy on Houston is one filled with success. He passed seven balanced budgets, championed historic pension reform, launched Houston's first Climate Action Plan, meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and lead the global energy transition. cheered on the 2017 and 2022 World Series Houston Astros, hosted a successful Super Bowl LI, and the list goes on.
Mayor Turner leaves the city of Houston in a better standing than when he started eight years ago. Mayor-elect John Whitmire will inherit a $420 million surplus in the first budget cycle, a city pension that is down by $6 billion, a reduction in homelessness, the completion of several critical construction projects, among other things, from Turner’s legacy.
The little boy from Acres Homes who dreamed big for himself became the man living out those wildest dreams. In his last State of the City Address, Mayor Turner said, “I have given you, my best. And I am proud of the city I shall pass forward.”
Thank you, Mayor Sylvester Turner, for being simply the best from Houston Style Magazine.