Candidate profile: Turner looks to ‘put values in action’

Turner is the first in his family to go to college. | Courtesy of Sue Davis for Sylvester Turner

Former Texas Representative Sylvester Turner will be a famous face on the Houston Mayoral ballot this November.

Turner’s platform, “Putting Values into Action” details the values he learned along his journey as the first of his family of nine to go to college, attending UH and Harvard Law School, to become a member of the Texas legislature and now to become potential Houston mayor.

“I come from a family where neither one of my parents graduated from high school, but the focus is always on education,” Turner said. “It was on the campus of the University of Houston where I debated for two years, was speaker of the student senate and was very active in politics. So, I can’t forget that. It molded me into who I am today.”

During his service in the Texas legislature, Turner has “been on the front line” for education as he fought for additional funding for higher education institutions such as the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and Lone Star Community College.

Turner was endowed $500,000 from H.E.B. for education purposes, and he donated it to Lone Star for tuition assistance for students.

Along with his focus on education, Turner was a part of several committees overseeing different aspects of the state including the Texas budget, telecommunication and electrical utilities, transportation, criminal justice and healthcare, specifically mental health — setting him apart from his competitors in the race.

The next potential mayor must address several issues facing the city of Houston, but first and foremost, he or she must address a budget shortfall of $126 million.

“Essentially when it comes to budget merit (or) budget matters that is my area of expertise,” Turner said. “The good news for me is I (have) been on (the) Appropriations Committee in the Texas Legislature for the last 21 years, and I’ve been one of five (people) writing the budget,”

In addition, Turner plans to address Houston’s infrastructure chronically plaguing certain areas of the city. However, the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling of the program Rebuild Houston unconstitutionality forces the next mayor to revise a plan to fix the city’s infrastructure.

“I do think it gives us the opportunity to refine the program and make it even better,” Turner said. “I like the concept. You need to have an infrastructure that keeps up with the growth and development.”

Houston is rich in diversity and City Council reflects that, in not just workers, but political stance. Democrat Turner plans to use the values he learned in a Republican-dominated Texas legislature to collaborate and work efficiently with the Houston government.

“The House is controlled by Republicans, the Senate is controlled by Republicans and statewide office holders are Republican,” Turner said. “As a democrat, I have been able to effectively work with people from different parties (and) different points of view to get things accomplished and achieved. It’s going to take the same thing, the same ability to be mayor of the city of Houston –the most diverse city in the country.”

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