The City of Houston has begun to breathe a sigh of relief as our long awaited Mayoral race is now over.
While the election has ended, Mayor-Elect Sylvester Turner has been given a mandate by Houstonians to make sure everyone benefits from the progress that is made in the city. The next four years will test our new leader, but after almost three decades in the Texas House of Representatives, I truly believe our new Mayor is the right choice.
Shortly after he takes the helm, Mayor Turner will have to begin the process of healing the city. While outgoing Mayor Parker tried to ensure the equality of all Houstonians, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance became a divisive issue during the campaign. This one piece of legislation brought out the worst of Houstonians and our new Mayor will be left to pick up the pieces.
For Mayor Turner, this may actually be the easiest part of his transition. While serving in the Republican-led House, Turner was able to broker deals no other Democrat could accomplish. The charm he used to win over House Republicans must now be used to build bridges across deep divides.
While trying to bridge those gaps, Mayor Turner will also have to strategically roll out plans on fixing the city’s crumbling road systems, providing better opportunities to create economic success in all neighborhoods, working with the county and other governmental entities to streamline resources and ensuring the city’s arts, entertainment and culture are able to succeed beyond our borders.
Not only must he strategically roll out his plans for a better Houston, Mayor Turner must also guarantee that young adults from my generation are represented in every facet of government. Mayor Turner has the perfect opportunity to utilize the untapped force and resources of my generation to ensure his plans succeed. Young adults from my generation must be appointed to city boards and commissions, as well as have active roles in the Turner Administration.
Still, while all those balls are in the air, Mayor Turner will have to find a way to pay for it all. I do not believe the city’s pension dilemma will impact his first few years, but Mayor Turner will have to address the city’s financial stability within his first term. As a city built on oil and gas, Houston has been spared the worst of the economic crisis caused by the falling oil prices. Houston has a more diversified economy, but as long as oil is king, Mayor Turner will have to find new streams of revenue and recruit new businesses to the city of Houston.
Four years may seem like a long time away, but we will blink and a new election season will be upon us again.
Mayor Turner will have a yeoman’s task ahead of him, but it will be our task, as Houstonians, to not only support him along the way, but also hold him accountable and correct him if he goes astray.
No, our new Mayor does not have a magic wand which could provide for all of our needs, but we must work just as hard to ensure all of our communities are in better shape than they were before. #ijs