Texas

Texas mayors unite in a bipartisan bid to push for their legislative priorities in Austin.

Who decides politics when it comes to police, public health or housing?

State and local control has long been a burning issue in Texas. In this legislative session, a bipartisan coalition of mayors representing the state’s largest cities is pushing for more issues to remain in the hands of local governments.

The Texas City Mayors Coalition is made up of 18 mayors representing more than 8.5 million Texans from all over the state. Matty Parker, mayor of Fort Worth, said the goal is to focus on issues the group agrees on. Texas mayors do not run for the party affiliation listed on the ballot, but Parker is affiliated with the Republican Party.

“I think our common elements are really consistent, although sometimes our individual cities may have different approaches,” she said. “But I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn from each other. In my opinion, we are where the rubber meets the road. We must find compromise and consensus wherever possible. You’ve seen us do this on a range of issues over the last year and a half since I became mayor and when this coalition was formed. We think there is power in numbers to try to find those items by which we can identify ourselves together, regardless of party, on behalf of the residents living in our cities.”

Some of the big issues the coalition will focus on this session include property tax exemptions and strengthening local government.

“Local government just helps protect community decision making,” she said. “I started my career in Austin as a legislator. I have full respect for both the House of Representatives and the Senate and the way things work. But recognizing that we can operate differently in Fort Worth than in Austin or Dallas, we want to keep that option.”

Other priorities include a commitment to workforce development and education, with a particular focus on early childhood education programs. Parker said the group also wants the Legislature to work to reduce violent crime and expand broadband internet access.

Parker said coalition membership complements every mayor’s efforts to uphold their personal priorities.

“We’re just trying to live like mayors, like each of you live in your normal life, right? You don’t have the luxury of simply disagreeing, walking away, and refusing to work together in business or personal life. I think this is reflected in our role as mayors,” she said. “In the end, most people are the same. We are separated by the 2% we tend to focus on. And as mayors, we’re just trying to focus on the 98%. How can we get yes? How can we work together and recognize that the coalition is so much stronger than acting individually, just for partisan purposes?”

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