Klein High School
Chairman of Budget and Oversight of the Regulated Industries Committee
BiographySylvester Turner was born in Houston in 1954, the sixth of nine children. He was raised by his father, a commercial painter and his mother, a maid at the Rice Hotel.
Turner showed promise at a young age, being elected president of his senior class and earning the distinction of valedictorian as a student at Klein High School. He continued to build his record of accomplishment at the University of Houston where he was Speaker of the Student Senate and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude. In 1980 he received his J.D. from Harvard Law School where he was a finalist in the Ames Moot Court Competition.
After graduation from law school, he became an associate with Fulbright and Jaworski. In 1983, he founded his own firm, Barnes & Turner, where he continues to practice.
Representative Turner has served as an adjunct professor at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and as a seminar lecturer at the South Texas College of Law and the University of Houston Law School’s Continuing Legal Education Programs.
He is committed to several civic and educational causes and has been involved with organizations such as the United Negro College Fund, the Acres Home Citizens Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition for School Improvement and the Board of the American Cancer Society.
Turner began his service in the Legislature in 1988 and ran for Mayor of Houston in 1991.
At the beginning of the 78th legislature, Representative Turner was named Speaker Pro Tempore by the Republican Speaker of the House. This position, the second most powerful in the House, enables him to continue his work on reformative issues concerning education, health care, human services, consumers rights and juvenile justice while working to build broad coalitions that represent all Texans.
Turner currently serves as the Chairman of Budget and Oversight of the Regulated Industries Committee and as a member of the Calendars Committee and the Appropriations Committee.
Representative Turner has made a career of taking a stand on policies and issues which affect the common citizen. His compassionate insight has raised issue awareness and evoked the praise and admiration of his colleagues in the legislature from all over the state and all over the political spectrum.
Representative Turner was named one of ten among "The Best of the Legislature" of the 77th session by Hispanic Journal and he was honored for the second time in 2001 by the Texas Classroom Teachers as a "Legislative Star" for his work in leading the fight for students and teachers. He has been honored with the 1995 "Star of Texas Award" from Common Cause of Texas and the 1999 "Open Government Award" from the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the Texas Press Association for his efforts in supporting open government. In 1995, Turner was honored as "the conscience of the 74th Legislature" by the Texas Legislative Study Group, he received the Sierra Club’s "State Legislative Award" for work on environmental issues, and the Texas House of Representatives "Crime Fighter of the Year Award" from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.
He is a member of Brookhollow Baptist Church, and the proud father of Ashley Paige Turner.