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The Chron’s overview of the Mayor

It’s a fair picture.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner hugged his way through three dozen staff and supporters, reached the podium, and smiled.

It was May 2017, and Turner’s landmark pension reform bill had just passed the Legislature, validating his decision to devote the first 17 months of his term almost exclusively to the city’s top fiscal challenge.

The longtime legislator finally had won the job on his third try, fulfilling a dream more than two decades in the making. His tenure had not been perfect — there was the Tax Day Flood, the tanking recycling market, two huge budget deficits.

This day, though, things were good.

“Let me just tell you,” Turner said, “this is one of those moments where you want to just kind of take it in and not let it pass too quickly.”

The moment would prove to be one of the last Turner — the first Houston mayor elected to a four-year term — could relish, unburdened by crisis.

Within four months, the mayor found his agenda dominated by catastrophic flooding wrought by the worst rainstorm in continental United States history, as well as a man-made crisis — a bitter fight over firefighters’ pay that led to a lopsided loss at the polls and, later, a win at the courthouse.

Those challenges, and Turner’s tendency to keep a tight grip on the reins of government and immerse himself in the details of decision-making, constrained what the mayor — and the allies who helped elect him to office — had hoped he would accomplish.

Most political observers expect Turner — who held a 17 percent lead over his nearest rival in a recent poll — to retain enough support to earn a second term. The mayor, however, has drawn plenty of detractors and underwhelmed some supporters, putting him in a less secure position than one might expect of an incumbent Democrat in a blue city.

You know I’m supporting Mayor Turner for re-election. I believe he’s generally done a good job, and I find his leading opponents to be somewhere between disingenuous, dishonest, and delusional in their alternate proposals. I wish he’d made more progress on some of the issues discussed in this story, but flooding and the firefighter saga have taken priority, and that’s just how it goes. The only one of his opponents that I’d trust to value those same priorities is Sue Lovell, and I have more faith in Turner to move them forward. Statements in the story about Turner’s control over the ordinance process have been made about every previous Mayor, and will continue to be made about future Mayors. We’re fine with Mayor Turner. I don’t feel fine about the alternatives. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

(There was a Chron profile of Bill King a couple of says earlier. I fell asleep each time I tried to read it.)

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12 Comments

  1. Andrew Lynch says:

    Turner has been defined by his challenges for ” mismanaging the firefighter dispute, slow-walking the Harvey recovery and overseeing a culture of corruption at City Hall” I would say those are fair accusations.

  2. Ross says:

    I don’t think the firefighter issue was mismanaged, since the union was utterly intransigent and not realistic about what the City can do given the revenue cap. The union tried to make it a bigger deal by tugging at the heart strings of voters, but that failed. Neither King nor Buzbee has proposed a real solution to the revenue limitations, while saying they will add public safety personnel.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Since the later part of the summer the streets have been repaired apace. Just today, as I rode home on my bicycle, coming across Fairview on Hazard, the gigantic concavity on Fairview was newly filled, after all these years. Turner is simply using his office to make people think he’s going to fix everything. Well, if he gets re-elected, the fixing will stop. Of course, if he doesn’t get re-elected, he will use his final month to punish us, just like he did with recycling after Proposition B was approved. He’s like Trump, except not as effective and not as humorous.

    Trying to get Al Green to publicly chastise him for segregationist policies was fruitless, as well as trying to get the DA Sean Teare to denounce the city for not being ADA compliant after the double fatality at 10th and Shepherd. Mr. Teare did charge the driver, but no comment on the city not being ADA compliant.

    Not sure how the writer fell asleep during the Bill King story. Mr King sent me a video of him lowered down into the sewer system to figure out the flooding problem. Very gripping, especially when you think that a gator may be down there. Also not sure how anyone can support Turner. He had his chance. And do you really support kowtowing to segregationists and NIMBYs?

  4. C.L. says:

    Holy shit, Jason – there’s gators in the sewers ?

  5. Ross says:

    @Jason, King wouldn’t know a damn thing about flooding from being lowered into the sewer. Anyone who thinks King or Buzbee will be better than Turner is fooling themselves.

  6. Steve Houston says:

    Anyone who believes a politician’s campaign promises are going to be carried out, deserves the kind of government they receive. While it seems all too appropriate that King was lowered into the sewers, it was just the latest look-at-me stunt by someone who sees their chance of winning fading away. King supports adding multi-billion dollar flooding measures along the coast yet always comes up short when coming up with a plan to pay for them other than pass the buck. And Buzbee seems to think there’s room to add a couple thousand more police officers yet has no idea how they’d be used or worse, how to pay for them even if he could find that many qualified applicants. But your segregationist rhetoric was torn down previously, even Al wouldn’t bite, so you might find better things to complain about. It’s still Turner’s to win despite the constant whining from one employee group and those who live outside the city, the man’s not perfect but considering the current alternatives, you’re probably going to be upset for another four years.

  7. Manny says:

    Turner has my vote, he has done as well as I could have expected with all the problems that had built up over decades.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I voted for Turner last election but he will not get my vote this time. The way he treated the firefighters is heartbreaking. I’m voting Sue Lovell. If there is a runoff between Mini-Trump and Turner… well all i can say is that I’m not voting Turner.

  9. Jeff Harris says:

    So many people running against Turner tells me all that I need to know. Everyone thinks that TUrner has not done a good job

  10. Jason Hochman says:

    @Steve Houston, no, my segregationist rhetoric wasn’t debunked. The city and HUD signed a “voluntary compliance agreement” in March 2018. The agreement states that Mayor Turner/COH were found to be in violation of Title VI, but wanted to appeal, so, instead of going through a lengthy appeal, they would sign this contract, in which, Mayor Turner and COH admit no guilt, even though HUD found them guilty. I wonder at the title of “voluntary” compliance agreement. All contracts must be voluntary; a contract made under duress or deception is not a valid contract. The agreement has reporting milestones that must be met, and states that noncompliance or material breach will cause the federal funding to be revoked. Please do read the document, it can be found online. Swipe right for segregation.

  11. M. Torres says:

    I voted for Turner last time around and then I voted yes for Prop B. After Turner decided that our votes did not count, I decided never to vote for a Dictator-Won’t vote for Turner..

  12. Ross says:

    @M. Tores, Prop B was illegal, regardless of whether a majority voted for it. Your vote didn’t count because State law says it didn’t count, not Turner. Besides that, where would you get the money to pay for Prop B without firefighter layoffs?