Five stories that have North Texas talking: New Hope mayor is the first openly transgender elected official in Texas; Rex Tillerson gets confirmation; get married on this bus; and more.
Jess Herbst, who became the mayor of New Hope, Texas in May 2016, is the state’s first openly transgender elected official. The website for the city of New Hope lists its mayor as Jeff Herbst, but in an open letter to citizens of the small Collin County town, Herbst shared with them that she is transgender. Herbst had been elected to the Town Council as an alderman and was appointed mayor after the previous mayor died, the Texas Observer reports. New Hope is a suburb of McKinney. According to the 2010 census, the population was 614, but in the May election, 640 people were registered to vote, according to the town’s website, The Dallas Morning News reports.
In the letter, Herbst says with the support of her wife and two children she started hormone replacement therapy two years ago. “At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor’s position, but here I am.” She writes she’s not sensitive to the pronoun she’s called, and she expects it will take time for people to make the change. And she has made a simple name change from Jeff to Jess. Herbst concluded the letter saying she’s available via email for questions and comments and at the town council meetings on the last Tuesday of every month. [Texas Observer]
- Gov. Greg Abbott canceled $1.5 million in criminal justice grants from his office to Travis County. Abbott promised to cut funding after the county’s new sheriff Sally Hernandez created an immigration policy that took effect Wednesday. According to KUT: “She has directed deputies and staff of the Travis County Sheriff’s Department to not honor most warrantless requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to extend the detention of people booked into the local jail. If there’s no warrant, the sheriff’s policy agrees to detain only those charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling." [KUT]
- Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, was approved by the Senate Wednesday. He was approved by a 56-43 vote, NPR reports. Tillerson has no diplomatic experience aside from his international ties as the former CEO of Irving-based Exxon Mobil — the world's largest and most powerful oil company. During his hearing, Tillerson faced tough questioning, particularly about his ties with Vladimir Putin. But unlike Trump, he fully believes Russia was responsible for the hacks of the Democratic emails during the presidential campaign. [NPR]
- Dallas Summer Musicals is racking in the “Hamiltons” after announcing its big get for the 2018-2019 season. The nonprofit company sold 2,600 subscriptions for the 2017-18 season, totaling $1.2 million, shortly after the news broke recently that “Hamilton: An American Musical” was coming to North Texas next year, The Dallas Morning News reports. The best way to secure tickets for the Pulitzer-winning musical is by purchasing a subscription for the upcoming season. And 2,180 of those subscriptions were from new patrons. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Getting married on a bus is nothing if not efficient. A bus company that boasts $1 rides in Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin is offering its services to either get you and 80 people to and from your wedding or to get you hitched right between the aisles. The deal is part of a contest called, “Marry Me on a Megabus.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the winning couple gets to use the bus either for transportation or as a venue, and the winners will receive two Megabus tickets that may be used for a honeymoon and $2,500 cash.” Read the fine print. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]