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.)