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City of Houston

Houston Mayor Names New City Attorney

It’s not an unusual move for a new mayor, but one analyst says there could be more to it.


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Houston Litigator Ron Lewis - photographed in his office.
Houston Litigator Ron Lewis – photographed in his office.

Ronald Lewis is a partner at Houston law firm Marshall & Lewis, which he co-founded in 2006. Before that, he was with Baker Botts LLP for 23 years.

At City Hall Tuesday, Mayor Turner introduced the Harvard graduate as a "lawyer's lawyer."

"We want someone who understands the law and (is) not going to play politics with the law," he said. "Just tell us what it is and be the best representative for the city of Houston."

Turner said Lewis was chosen from 35 highly-qualified lawyers, who were then narrowed down to three finalists.

Attorneys can make considerably more money in the private sector. But Lewis said with his service to the city, he's following a family tradition, "trying to contribute to more than my individual achievement and to serve, actually serve, a larger population of people."

Lewis replaces Donna Edmundson, who was appointed by former Mayor Annise Parker more than a year ago.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, said most mayors want their city attorneys to be trusted allies, and so it's not unusual to appoint a new one after they take office.

But he also said the city of Houston suffered some legal defeats in highly political cases last year — like the fight over the equal rights ordinance.

And that could have played into Turner's decision as well.

"Perhaps she was perceived to be too much of an activist," Rottinghaus said. "And I think the mayor wanted somebody who is much more cautious and perhaps more legalistic."

Political scientist Bob Stein at Rice University said he thinks Turner is "slow or even reluctant to make new appointments at the director level until he sees a necessity to replace those in those positions."

Edmundson will stay in her position until after the City Council confirms Lewis' appointment later this month. She plans to retire at the end of May.

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