Tag Archives: rodney ellis

Isabel Longoria Resigns As Elections Chief

After County Judge Lina Hidalgo made it clear that she preferred someone else in charge of elections, Isabel Longoria submitted her resignation, effective July 1.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Houston Chronicle reported that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, said she wanted a change in leadership and intended to replace election administrator Isabel Longoria. Shortly after, Longoria announced she would step down on July 1.

Her resignation came after Harris County Democrats called for a comprehensive post-election review, while Republicans — regular adversaries of the county’s Democratic leadership — simultaneously sued the county and demanded Longoria’s resignation.

Also…

Ultimately, the county commissioners court voted to bring in a third-party consultant to review the county’s elections operations and make recommendations for improvement for the remaining 2022 elections.

I guess that the consultant will work double-time so the office can be ready for November. That’ll be a nice vendor contract.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia supported Longoria’s resignation and defended the creation of an election administrator’s office stating the current system allows for accountability. Also, that an elected official running the elections would have an unfair advantage in their own race.

County Commissioner Rodney Ellis expanded on the fact that Longoria had to face an “unprecedented amount of obstructions aimed at her office and Harris County voters.” That would include anything from frivolous lawsuits to SB1 to no guidance from the Secretary of State. Ellis also stated that the real threat to voting rights are barriers to voting and other voter suppression tactics.

Back when the office was created, I defended our Democratic majority doing so since we elected them, and despite opposition from the Tax Assessor-Collector to the idea. What I did prefer at the time was a lengthy discussion on how it should be created and run and that a national search be done for someone to lead the office. Someone who knew the new voting system and could hit the ground running. Something that would not have taken two years, as Garcia mentioned in his statement. And look at where we are now.

Like Kuff, I was happy with the choice of Longoria because I knew her as a hard-working, open-minded person who would get the job done, if given the freedom by all sides. So, I appreciate Isabel Longoria’s commitment to remaining for the next two elections in May, though, I do remind her that this is a right to work state and loyalty is a two-way street. Whatever errors occurred happened within the entire office, so, I hope that all those involved are held accountable. That’s if all the hubbub wasn’t “political,” right?

Something else I said about the creation of a “non-partisan” elections office that would take out the politics from elections is that these offices are always political, no matter who is in charge. And with republicans continually tossing around voting conspiracy theories, it will be hard for anyone to run this office. And that’s exactly what Republicans want. So, best to keep a Democratic majority at Commissioner’s Court.

Kuff has his take and smacks the local news a bit for basically misleading viewers on how the “missing” votes could have affected the outcomes of some close races without context on the data. As Kuff (and many of us who follow vote counts as hobbies) expected, no outcomes were affected.

Judge Lesley Briones Announces for Harris Commish Pct 4

With the ink pretty much dry on the recently approved redrawing of Harris County Commissioner precincts, Judge Lesley Briones announced that she would be resigning her position as Judge of County Civil Court at Law #4 to seek the Democratic nomination for the newly approved Precinct 4 Commissioner’s seat in 2022.

Currently, right-winger and consistent anti-progress vote Jack Cagle is in the seat, but the redesigned precinct has been made an opportunity for Democrats as a majority-minority district. Cagle could always move to the safe Republican precinct #3 and run against Tom Ramsey in 2024.

Stated Briones:

Together, we can build a county government that keeps our families safe, protects our homes from flooding, expands access to health care, treats everyone fairly, and creates good jobs that help our families thrive.

I have been represented by the current Precinct 4 commissioner for the last ten years. In that time, Harris County has changed – and now is the time for new leadership that will get better results for our community.

Briones has been endorsed by the Commissioners in Precinct 1 and 2, Democrats Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, respectively. One will recall that the current Democratic majority, including County Judge Lina Hidalgo, appointed Briones to her current position after a freak resignation caused a vacancy. Briones handily defeated a Dem opponent and went on to win her race in 2020. Now, Briones is looking toward another seat in Harris County government.

Regarding Briones:

Lesley Briones is a former judge, non-profit leader, attorney, and public school teacher. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Lesley practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP, served as General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, and most recently served as the judge of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4. Lesley and her husband Adán are the proud parents of three young daughters.

I have high praise for Briones as a campaigner having met her on the trail. Anyone who is willing to campaign for votes by actually talking to people gets praise from me. (The powers that be didn’t pick a good one for Pct 3 in 2020.) I’ve been drawn into Pct 4 and my hopes are for a strong, energetic, people-oriented campaign because that is how Democrats win.

Good luck to former Judge Briones. I look forward to seeing her campaign and issues develop as we get closer to the Primary.

Harris County To Consider Reforms to Law Enforcement

Harris County Commissioner Pct 1 Rodney Ellis and his Democratic colleagues (Judge Hidalgo and Commissioner Garcia) will propose some needed reforms to law enforcement in Harris County. Stated Commissioner Ellis on his Facebook page:

Harris County devotes more than $776 million to the Sheriff and Constables. That’s 45% of our total spending of our general fund departmental budget. By reallocating funds towards community resources we can begin to build a better quality of life for communities of color and stop using the criminal justice system to address problems associated with poverty and health.

The Chron’s Zach Despart posted the proposals:

As Kuff states, it’s harder for the Commisssioners to impose police reforms on law enforcement departments run by their own elected officials, such as Sheriff and Constables. But each of these proposals has much to do with how tax dollars for law enforcement are allocated and how these offices will become more accountable to the people, i.e., the creation of an independent civilian review board with subpoena power.

Kuff also reminds us that the Houston Mayor and City Council do have more power to effect police reforms and I must agree that City Council Member Letitia Plummer’s budget amendment proposals should be a starting point for implementation. Considering that the Mayor is proposing almost a billion dollars for law enforcement with no particular proposal for change or reform, it is definitely time for a public discussion led by elected officials, rather than political appointees.

 

 

 

Christopher Hollins Named Interim County Clerk

Late last night, I got the message that the Harris County Commissioner’s Court appointed local lawyer and Texas Democratic Party Finance Chair Christopher Hollins to serve as interim Harris County Clerk.

The court voted 3-2 along party lines to approve Hollins. Five public speakers urged court members to choose Teneshia Hudspeth, Trautman’s chief deputy. County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said Hollins’ pledge to serve only on an interim basis factored in their decision.

So, it will be up to the Party’s precinct chairs to select someone to be the nominee on the November 2020 ballot. Let the games begin.

Hollins, though, seems like candidate material. He served the Obama administration’s Office of Presidential Personnel as a legal intern before embarking on his career. No doubt, he has some Democratic bonafides considering his current position in the Party.

After navigating the local Party website, I finally found out how to find my precinct chair. Unfortunately, they want all my information before telling me who publicly signed up to run for the office (or got appointed later). Anyway, if you want to lobby your precinct chair, I guess this is how you can start.

 

Commissioner Ellis Seeks County Authorization to Join SB4 Lawsuit

This past week, Houston finally joined Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and various organizations in suing the state of Texas over its racial profiling law (SB4). In his weekly e-mail to constituents,  Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis stated he had sent a letter prior to the City’s action to County Attorney Vince Ryan requesting him to seek authorization from the Harris County Commissioner’s Court to join the SB4 lawsuit.

As the nation’s third-largest county with the fifth-largest foreign-born population, Harris County is at particular risk under SB4. Immigrants are a vital part of our community and strengthen the social fabric of Harris County. This new legislation threatens to tear families apart. Immigrants cannot and should not be driven back into the shadows or live in fear because of this unconstitutional law.

Already, local governments have filed suit against SB4, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday in San Antonio. Just this past week, the Houston City Council voted to join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Bexar County and other local governments in a consolidated lawsuit challenging the law.

As Commissioner, I will continue to stand with immigrant families and defend the right of local government and law enforcement to set their own priorities. In a June 9 letter, I asked Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan to seek authorization from Harris County Commissioners Court to join the lawsuit against SB4. I believe it is vitally important for Harris County to fight this unjust law and look forward to working with County Attorney Ryan on this important issue that we both care about. 

SB4 is a reflection of the anti-immigrant sentiment permeating our society and stands in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. It upholds a flawed and outmoded form of immigration control that tears families apart, increases racial profiling, and violates due process. We need immigration solutions that attend to the complex issues surrounding reform with compassion, efficiency, and effectiveness in mind. And wherever there is discrimination, we must be prepared to speak out and take action.

Some may think there is a slim to none chance of a Republican-heavy court doing the right thing, but we have a County Judge who has taken more moderate stances on immigration issues, and the commissioner of Precinct 2, who is up for re-election in 2018, serves a Latino-heavy precinct. Who knows? Maybe they can be convinced to do the right thing. At the very least, they should provide an audience for discussion of this issue since it affects a majority of county residents.

Muchos thank yous to Commissioner Rodney Ellis for taking a strong stance on the lawsuit.