Houston Mayor Names New City Department Leaders

For all of the Federal Government’s turmoil and uncertainty with the impending Presidency of Donald Trump, Houstonians can be assured that municipal leaders have their act together.

As if Mayor Sylvester Turner’s deal with Uber this week wasn’t enough, the Chief Executive of Texas’ largest city had more big news to make this week.  Here it is directly from the city’s Press Release…

In a sweeping announcement, Mayor Sylvester Turner named four new department directors and a reappointment Thursday.  Pending City Council confirmation, Art Acevedo of Austin will assume the position of police chief and El Paso’s Samuel Pena will take over the fire department.

“Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo and Acting Fire Chief Rodney West have performed exemplary in dealing with some challenges and we are indebted to them for their service,” said Mayor Turner.  “I had said all along that once we reached solution to our pension problems, I would move quickly to fill key positions.  This is the team that will carry us into 2017 and beyond.  We are going to build upon the successes of 2016 and be even more transformative, innovative and responsive.”

Acevedo has served as Austin’s police chief since 2007.  His 30 years of law enforcement experience began as a field patrol officer in East Los Angeles.  In Austin, he oversaw a department with more than 2,400 sworn officers and support personnel and a $370 million annual budget.  He joined the department at a time when relations with minorities were strained due to questionable police shootings.  He has been credited for a commitment to police legitimacy, accountability and community policing and engagement.  His accomplishments include creating a special investigative unit to criminally investigate officer involved shootings and a new disciplinary matrix.  Acevedo holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from the University of La Verne, is a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute and speaks fluent Spanish.

Pena joined the El Paso Fire Department in 1995 and then rose through the ranks to the position of fire chief, which he has held since 2013.  He has previous experience as a fire fighter, paramedic, media spokesperson, advanced medical coordinator, Combined Search and Rescue Team member, Hazardous Materials & Special Rescue Task Force member and academy training chief. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he served for four years as an air control specialist. Like Acevedo, he is fluent in Spanish.

Along with the high profile appointments of Chief Designates Acevedo and Pena, Mayor Turner also appointed Judge Elaine Marshall to preside of the Municipal Court system, while Tom McCasland, currently serving as Interim Director of Houston’s Department of Housing and Community Development, will now ascend to the permanent post.  Municipal court Judge Phyllis Frye, the first openly transgender judge to ever serve in the state, was also reappointed to the city’s Municipal Court.

Once again surrounded by a diverse coalition of Council Members, Mayor Turner was all smiles in naming the “full house” of appointments.

Today’s news comes at the end of an unprecedented sweep of progress for the new Administration’s 1st year in office.  After the announcement of an historic pension reform plan last month, and a city budget that was passed unanimously by Council in the Spring, Mayor Sylvester Turner seems to be living by his mantra that Houston is “a can do city”.  If the game of politics is won with leadership by example, then Mayor Turner appears to be nothin’ but net.

Of course one final showdown is yet to come.  We’ll see what the State Legislature has to say about the pension deal next year.

Check out the Mayor’s Press Conference here.

 

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Center, Incoming Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.  

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