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City-county relations should continue to be good

Glad to hear it.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

Prospects for increased city-county cooperation are looking up, Houston Mayor-elect Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett say, forecasting further thawing of the historically contentious relationship between the jurisdictions.

Turner spoke with Emmett and Harris County’s four commissioners just days after his narrow mayoral victory over Bill King, seeking to discuss a series of common objectives, which included potential partnerships on forensic sciences, mental health, traffic management and reviving the beleaguered Astrodome.

“It’s in both of our respective interests, and, quite frankly, the whole region, for the city of Houston to be working in collaboration with the county and our regional partners,” Turner said in a recent interview with the Chronicle, echoing a common debate talking point.

He and King repeatedly called for a joint crime lab throughout the campaign, agreeing that Houston should scrap its independent operation and join forces with the county.

Emmett, a Republican and former state lawmaker, said he has high expectations for his relationship with Turner, a 26-year Democratic state representative.

“When you’re talking about transportation or flood control or crime labs or traffic management, there’s nothing partisan about those things. He understands that, and I understand that,” Emmett said, pointing to their common legislative background. “So, I think we’ll engage on a regular basis.”


Under outgoing Mayor Annise Parker, the city and county worked more closely than they had in decades, jointly supporting a 2012 Metro referendum on mobility funding, teaming up to fund a new pauper’s cemetery and creating a joint radio shop to program, maintain and repair radios for first responders. October’s ground-breaking on a joint city-county inmate processing center is seen as a cooperative milestone.

I talked about the city’s improved relationship with the county in my interview with Mayor Parker. It was a remarkable change, and something for which she and Commissioners Court deserve a lot of credit. It helps that when the city and county get together on things, it really is a win-win: Stuff gets done, and money gets saved, which means there’s something for everyone. It doesn’t always work out that nicely, and there will be times when the city and the county have differing goals, but there should be more opportunities for this over the next few years. It’s encouraging to see Mayor-elect Turner and Commissioners Court singing from the same hymnal.

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  1. brad moore says:

    I really like hearing about this desired pragmatism between Turner and Emmett.

  2. Steve Houston says:

    Parker had a golden opportunity to switch the city over to the county crime lab rather than reinvent the wheel too yet she wanted to go her own way. While I disagree with exactly how much it would have saved the city, given Pasadena closed their lab down to farm out to the county and saved over $5 million a year just recently, it seems likely Houston would have saved more as the lab continues to struggle. Turner has indicated some interest in the change so maybe it will happen before the end of his second term but it could have been done before Houston spent gobs of money for the facility in now owns.