Representative Sylvester Turner fought back tears today as the House gave him a bipartisan farewell as he concluded a 26-year legislative career to run for Houston mayor. “My time is up. My season is about here. And Mr. Speaker, in 24 hours, my desk will be clear,” Turner told the House, his eyes filled with tears.
Turner, who sometimes is called the “conscience of the House,” had once contemplated a career in the ministry before turning to law and politics. “God made me a very passionate person,” Turner said. “For twenty-six years, I have made this my ministry. And I’ve tried to hold true to it.”
Win or lose, Turner said he always tried to make a difference.
“I have given it my best. I have fought hard for the things I believe. I have done my best to keep them at the front. I have not won every battle. Every vote has not come my way, but I have given it all that I could,” Turner said.
At one point, he choked up and could not speak. Taking a white handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped his eyes.
“I love each and every one of you,” he told his colleagues. “Whether we have voted together or not is not important to me. Whether you are a D or an R is not important to me. The reality is we are Texans, but proud Texans.”
Lawmakers from both parties paid homage to Turner. Former Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican, teased him for his passionate speeches. Representative John Smithee, R-Amarillo, said those speeches could make a difference, “He could turn the House with logic and good argument.” Democratic Caucus Chair Yvonne Davis summed him up by saying:
“Whether it is Representative Turner, Chairman Turner, pastor Turner, mayor Turner, one thing that encompasses every one of those titles is you are a true leader.”