HOUSTON - It’s been about 24 hours since the polls closed on Tuesday and political newcomer Lina Hidalgo will take over as Harris County Judge, a position Ed Emmett has held for 11 years.
Hidalgo beat the incumbent Emmett by nearly 18,000 votes and the 27-year-old said her focus right now is building a team.
"I feel ready. I feel honored and thankful to everyone who supported us,” said Hidalgo.
Hidalgo is originally from Colombia, grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Seven Lakes High School in Katy. She then went on to Stanford where she studied political science.
She said she believes she’s ready to handle one of the largest counties in the country and working to get a team in place.
“We’re building a team of the smartest people so what we’re working on now is an expert staff. I’ve spoken with all the commissioners, with Judge Emmett, I’m thankful for his work and I look forward to staying in touch with him and we’re getting to work,” said Hidalgo.
Emmett was vocal on Twitter about his loss, stating he believes he was unseated because of voters going straight down party lines.
"The only qualification to being county judge is you get more votes than the other guy, and she did, she seems
to be pretty smart and I think she has the opportunity to grow into this position,” said former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.
He held the position from 1995 to 2007, when he resigned and Emmett was appointed to the position.
“I spoke with Judge Emmett earlier. He was in pretty good spirits,” said Eckels. “Again, I don’t think he takes it personally.”
Eckels said he doesn’t think the vote was against Emmett as much as it was more a partisan one.
“I do think it will be much more of a symbolic vote by many people who were punching straight ticket on both sides of the aisle. It was very difficult to overcome that kind of straight ticket vote,” said Eckels.
The former county judge did cross paths with the county judge-elect. He told her congratulations, gave his information and offered advice.
“She has an opportunity to grow into the office if she’ll listen to the commissioners, meet with the department heads and understand the county.
“She’s had a pretty aggressive social agenda, which is important and those things matter, but she can’t accomplish any of that if they don’t take care of the day-to-day operations, the pot holes, the flood control, the health issues the county has, the justice system, the jails.”
Hidalgo said she’s already starting to speak with her colleagues on commissioners’ court and is also thinking ahead when it comes top issues like flooding.
“First is to stop making the problem worse, we have a regulatory authority at the county and we have to enforce
those regulations to make sure we’re not encouraging development where we shouldn’t build,”Hidalgo said. “That we’re growing, but we’re growing smart ,so I’m committed to growing smart, making sure the billions of dollars coming in form Harvey recovery are spent transparently.”
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