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Chron Mayoral profile: Sylvester Turner

This is the seventh (and last!) in a series of profiles on the top candidates running for mayor in Houston.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner followed his mother’s wisdom like a beacon, through the University of Houston, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science, through Harvard Law School and 26 years in the Texas House of Representatives, where he represents the 139th District.

Now the 61-year-old politician is following faith to Houston City Hall, deep in a crowded mayoral race that includes former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Councilman Stephen Costello, former City Councilman and Congressman Chris Bell, former Houston City Attorney Ben Hall and former Kemah Mayor Bill King.

“Life is not always fair, but you still have to navigate it and believe tomorrow is going to be better than today,” Turner said. “I’ve found that to be true more often than not. … When you no longer believe that, you have pretty much lost all hope and things certainly won’t get better.”

Turner’s bid for mayor – a position he said would crown his political career – is his third. In 1991, Turner, the odds-on favorite in a runoff election with developer Bob Lanier, saw his hopes disintegrate when Channel 13 aired a report days before balloting purportedly linking him to an insurance scam. Twelve years later, Turner plunged into a three-way race with businessman Bill White and former City Councilman Orlando Sanchez, placing third with 28 percent of the vote.

In his legislative career, Turner, whose district includes the Acres Homes neighborhood in which he grew up, has established a record as a progressive adept at working both sides of the aisle.

“I think that one thing I’ve learned in representing my legislative district,” Turner said, “is that people want results. They may not care if the Republicans are in charge or if the Democrats are in charge, they want answers to their problems. I am real big on collaboration, partnership and finding the common ground to build consensus.”

Turner has served 19 years as vice chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Since 2006, he has been a Legislative Budget Board member; since 2009, chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. Turner co-chaired the Harris County legislative delegation from 2013 to this year.

As with some of the earlier articles, I don’t think there’s much there that isn’t already known to the more obsessive observers, but it’s a good intro for anyone who needs one. It’s a sign of Turner’s political skills that he’s largely made Democrats forget and/or forgive his time with Team Craddick. That’s partly because (unlike most Craddick Dems) he did actually get stuff done, and partly because we all have bigger things to worry about now. There’s basically no one I talk to who doesn’t think Turner will make it to the runoff, the discussion as noted in the story is all about how he may do in the runoff. I don’t really want to think that far ahead at this time. The runoff campaign will be different than the November campaign, whoever makes it that far.

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