Harris County Judge-elect Lina Hidalgo prepares to take office

HOUSTON – When Harris County Judge-elect Lina Hidalgo takes office Jan. 1, she will not only become the county executive, she will also become the director of the county Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Hidalgo, 27, spoke about her upcoming role on Thursday at Houston TranStar.

"Government's first role is to keep people safe, and that's what I'm committed to," Hidalgo said. "I know what it's like to not be safe having left a country because of its dangers at the time."

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and other officials were on hand. Hidalgo said she made the visit to meet the people responsible for responding to emergencies.

Hidalgo is a Stanford University graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science. She is the first in her family to attend a Unites States college.

She said her focus was on working together with the community to be aware due to the inconsistent nature of disasters.

"I'm going to ask of all of them, 'How can we do better? How can we make sure we are partnering with people from all across the community?'" Hidalgo said.

She also said she wanted to get a dry run through an emergency situation, so the community could see firsthand what it looks like. Since Hidalgo has no political background, she said she is constantly learning and attempting to see what can be improved.

"What I'm focused on doing right now is surrounding myself with the smartest experts," Hidalgo said.

When she was asked about the ability for the Houston region to be evacuated during an emergency, Hidalgo was quick to point out that no situations are the same.

"We have a general philosophy that each disaster is different and what we have to be ready for is to make the best decision in that particular disaster," she said.

Watch the news conference below.