2023 LaTayne Bruce Legacy Award Recipient
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Since taking office, Mayor Turner has expertly managed significant challenges facing the nation’s fourth-largest city, including budget deficits, homelessness, and natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. He is currently leading Houston’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Amid national unrest and calls for improving the community and police relations, the mayor signed an executive order restricting the use of force and created a Task Force on Policing Reforms.
Mayor Turner has passed seven balanced budgets within the city’s fiscal constraints. He also oversaw Houston’s remarkable rebound from Hurricane Harvey, championed historic pension reform, cheered on the 2017 and 2022 World Series Houston Astros, and hosted a successful Super Bowl LI. He also launched Houston’s first Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and lead the global energy transition.
In February 2022, Mayor Turner released his One Safe Houston initiative to combat the increase in violence resulting from the pandemic, domestic violence, mental illness, and the proliferation of guns on the street. The plan has resulted in a decrease in the year-to-year number of homicides and overall violent crime rate.
Mayor Turner’s signature priorities include Complete Communities, an initiative designed to revitalize and improve Houston’s most under-served neighborhoods by partnering with local stakeholders to leverage resources to create a more equitable and prosperous city for all Houstonians. He also created the Hire Houston Youth program to provide jobs and internship opportunities for thousands of young people each year. He forged public-private partnerships to improve neighborhood parks and expand Houston’s technology and innovation footprint.
As the chief executive of the world’s energy capital, Mayor Turner brings a performance-driven approach to the job, creating a more responsive, streamlined, and efficient delivery of city services while shoring up Houston’s financial future. Thanks to his leadership, the Texas Legislature, and local voters approved the pension reform package that reduced the city’s liability by billions of dollars and provided a “fix” that had eluded the city for 17 years.
As a nationally recognized leader, Mayor Turner is a trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and serves on the Audit and Finance Committee. He is Chairman of the Resilient Cities Network, a member of the C40 and Global Covenant for Mayors for Climate and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, and Chairman of the Resilient Cities Network. Mayor Turner is the immediate past Chair of Climate Mayors and the immediate past president of the African American Mayors Association.
Before serving as Houston’s mayor, Turner served for 27 years as the Representative for Texas House District 139. He worked on the House Appropriations Committee for 21 years and served as Speaker Pro Tem for three terms. He was appointed to several Budget Conference Committees to balance the state’s budget and served on the Legislative Budget Board.
In 2017, Mayor Turner received the Ohtli Award, the Mexican government’s highest honor. In March 2020, the University of Houston’s Master of Public Administration Program honored Mayor Turner with the Pioneer of Public Service Award.
Numerous publications and news outlets such as 60 Minutes, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and FOX News have recognized Mayor Turner as a thought leader. The Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise Magazine, Cuba Today Magazine, Ebony, New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today have also featured Mayor Turner for his leadership and accomplishments.