On the Road Again: Turner Enters Houston Mayor’s Race

Most people are guided by an old idiom… “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Implied within is the assumption that even the most challenging tasks are worth at least three attempts.

That saying has now proven to be the case for State Representative Sylvester Turner, whom finally revealed Houston’s worst kept political secret this week.  Via campaign press release, he’s running for Mayor and bringing some big ideas with him…

State Representative Sylvester Turner announced his candidacy for Mayor of Houston this morning – and immediately proposed a new “Road to the Future” initiative to teach young Houstonians a combination of vocational and life skills they need to become employable while providing on-the-job training repairing Houston’s streets and roads.

“We all need smoother streets,” said Turner. “But we also need to build better roads to the future for so many of our young people who are being left behind. I know we can do both.”


As part of the Road to the Future initiative, Turner will bring together community colleges, businesses, labor unions and non-profit organizations to create a combination of classroom instruction and structured summer jobs, after-school jobs, after-high-school jobs and bridge jobs – real jobs with real skills that will help make the promise of Houston real for every Houstonian.

Turner said his priorities as mayor will include a top-to-bottom performance review of the city’s Department of Public Works and implementation of a quick-fix program for potholes; stepping up community policing efforts and improving relationships between HPD and communities of color; and addressing economic inequality through increased support for schools and better aligning community college-based workforce training with actual private sector job needs.

A veteran of Texas politics, this latest declaration follows a 12 year gap between his last run for Mayor in 2003, and a 1991 run 12 years before that.

Turner is entering the race with some important advantages, certainly not the least of which is the bold new jobs proposal discussed above, and in his first campaign video.  It may be no coincidence that the candidate’s Road to the Future proposal holds some similarities with a recent partnership formed by the city (via the Houston Airport System) and local community colleges.  The process Turner has put on the table is taking much of what Mayor Parker and CM Jerry Davis outlined, but applying it to other areas of city infrastructure.  But the major attribute of Turner’s plan is that it could occur all across the city, instead of having to transport participants to one training site like IAH.  Even if it doesn’t end up happening, it’s smart politics to start off the race with big ideas that are going to get noticed.

But along with big ideas, Sylvester Turner has also proven he can bring the big bucks.  As the Houston Chronicle‘s Theodore Schleifer reports, Turner has a huge fundraising advantage over other mayoral candidates right out of the gate.

On Friday, Turner is expected to name David Mincberg as his campaign treasurer of his mayoral account and inform the Texas Ethics Commission that his legislative account is effectively closed. He will begin the mayoral race with $900,000 of that $1 million to spend, according to his campaign, a head start that motivated a still-alive challenge by one of Turner’s opponents, Chris Bell, who argues that Turner is violating city campaign laws.

Who’s to say if fellow candidate Chris Bell’s complaints will gain any traction.  And of course anything can happen in the next 9 months.  But for today, the road ahead of Sylvester Turner appears quite promising in his run for City Hall.  We’ll all have to wait to find out if the 3rd time truly is the charm.

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