HOUSTON, TEXAS – Mary Benton stepped in as Houston’s interim press secretary two months ago to fill a vacancy. On Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed the veteran news reporter and seasoned communicator to the job permanently.

“To no one’s surprise, Mary adapted well to the demanding job since the very first day and has already demonstrated her integrity, dedication and the benefits of her experience,” Turner said. “As a key addition to my communications staff, she will ensure that we effectively use every available pathway to keep the public informed about my agenda and what the city is doing for all of its residents.”

Benton was a TV news reporter for KPRC (Channel 2) for 20 years before joining Harris County government in 2014. She managed media relations and public affairs at the Harris County Toll Road Authority, worked in the precinct offices of two Harris County commissioners, and served as a communications, education and public engagement coordinator at the Harris County Public Health Department.

She is a member of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, a board member of the charity Undies For Everyone, a Texas Association of Broadcasters member, a member of the Gulf Coast Apollo Chapter (TX) of the service organizations Links, Inc., a Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers member and a Texas Exes Life Member, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Benton replaces Darian Ward, who’d served as press secretary, under former Mayor Annise Parker and Mayor Turner. Ward had been suspended in December for failing to disclose thousands of emails that were generated and sent using city property and on city time. She went back to work in January and resigned later that month.