A large number of members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership journeyed to the Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake on March 10th for a singular purpose — to hear newly-elected Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s vision for the future of the fourth largest city in the nation. They were not disappointed.
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin, who represents District E, introduced Turner. He spoke of a man who, at the age of 13, lost his father to cancer. Turner’s mother raised him and his eight siblings and was a "stickler for making sure that they got the proper education.” That education eventually took Turner to the University of Houston and Harvard Law School. Martin concluded, "On a personal level, I can tell you that he’s really a smart man. He has a pretty strong sense of humor. He treats the council members with respect and dignity, and I’m proud to call him my friend.”
Turner thanked Martin for a "gracious, gracious introduction,” and immediately captured the attention of the audience with an amusing story about himself, a horse, and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo parade.
He then delivered a speech that focused on the entire Houston metropolitan region and not just the area inside the Loop. "We are all dependent and reliant on each other,” Turner emphasized.
The mayor spoke of storm surge protection and noted that it does not stop in the Clear Lake area, but the City of Houston is impacted, as well. He also thanked BAHEP for its very active role in the growth that is going on at Ellington Airport saying, "Aerospace and aviation are big business in Houston. I’ve always been a strong advocate for NASA and the Johnson Space Center, and I will continue to be supportive as the mayor of Houston.”
Addressing transportation Turner said, "It is critical that infrastructure keep pace with our growth and development.” He said that just building roadway capacity won’t solve the congestion problem. "It is time to have a discussion where we are shifting the paradigm, where we are talking about multiple forms of transportation. Doing the same thing and expecting different results simply is not going to achieve the ultimate objective,” the mayor stated.
Turner spoke of Houston’s visionary leadership that has resulted in two international airports, one of only two cities in the country that can make that claim. He noted major developments in the Clear Lake region including the Houston Spaceport and Independence Plaza at Space Center Houston among others.
Turner reported that he has been developing a financial plan to balance the city’s budget, which currently is experiencing a $145-$160 million shortfall. Although he just took office in January, the mayor only has until June to get this accomplished. He has met with every member of City Council and outlined a plan to accomplish his goal. He said, "It will balance, and we will do it and still maintain a reserve of about nine percent.”
Referencing advice given long ago by his mother, he concluded, "Regardless of where we are today and the challenges that we face, if we work together, and if we engage in shared sacrifice, tomorrow will be better than today.”
Shown l to r are: Mayor Glenn Royal, City of Seabrook; Mayor Jon Keeney, City
of Taylor Lake Village; BAHEP President Bob Mitchell; Mayor Sylvester Turner,
City of Houston; Houston City Council Member Dave Martin; and Mayor Michel
Bechtel, City of Morgan’s Point.