Running for Harris County Judge
Harris County Judge 2018 candidates: Lina Hidalgo (D) |Judge Ed Emmett* (R)
The U.S. midterms are on November 6, 2018. Unsure how or where to vote in the Harris County, Texas elections? Scroll to the bottom of this page for Harris County voter information, including where to vote and what to bring with you.
Lina Hidalgo biography
Lina Hidalgo and her family immigrated from Colombia to Peru and Mexico, before settling in the United States in 2005. She says her immigrant upbringing showed her what’s most important to families: safe neighborhoods, good jobs and a fair shot at the American dream. After graduating from Stanford University and becoming a U.S. citizen, Hidalgo continued to support immigrants in her community, from the Texas Civil Rights Project to working a medical interpreter for Spanish speakers. In recent years, Hidalgo has been researching criminal justice policy and pushing for reform, particularly in regards to the Harris County bail system and the effects of incarceration on children in Texas.
Hidalgo believes that the government representing Harris County should reflect its population, something that it’s very much failing at. When speaking about the all male, majority white Commissioner’s Court, Hidalgo says, ”There’s a problem when we are 40 Hispanic … [and] just over 50 percent woman and we don’t have a voice at that table making those powerful decisions.” Hidalgo says it’s about time that Harris County is represented by those who look like the people of Harris County.
On her decision to run, Hidalgo says everything changed with the 2016 election. A Master’s student in public policy at Harvard, Hidalgo decided to enter politics because, “It was time to step up and step forth for the issues I’d seen in my community for too long.” She also points to the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and the county government’s inaction in preparing for it as reason to run for office.
Hidalgo says she understands that most residents don’t fully what this position is about: “If you didn’t know, don’t feel embarrassed, because according to polling, the vast majority of people have no idea what this position is, much less what it does to be able to hold it accountable on all sorts of issues.” The position of Harris County judge is actually an executive position, not a judgeship. For example, the Harris County judge has power over county budgets and property taxes, in addition to other responsibilities.
*Entrevista con Lina Hidalgo en espanol aqui*
Lina Hidalgo endorsements
Dem. candidate for U.S. Senate, Beto O’Rourke
See full list of Lina Hidalgo endorsements here.
Lina Hidalgo platform on Harris County issues
Harris County Justice System
Hidalgo’s priorities focus heavily on improving the Harris County justice system. From using county data to ensure all residents have access to fair representation, to addressing discriminatory bail practices, Hidalgo says county transparency is very important to a fair process. Having studied the effects of incarceration on children and adults at Harvard, Hidalgo says ensuring that each resident has access to fair representation is so critical to a fair judicial process. Furthermore, she is opposed to funding Harris County’s defense against bail-related lawsuits, saying that money is far better spent reinvesting in the community.
When it comes to the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center, Hidalgo consistently points out the racial inequality and over-capacity issues. She says the detention center has “got 7 times more black kids as white kids, 5 times as many hispanic kids as white kids. There was a major expose by the Texas Tribune recently about the fact that we have kids there for trespassing and very minor offenses … Everyone knows the worst thing we can do is put kids in jail, and that’s what we’re doing. “
Flooding & Climate Change
In an op-ed that appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Lina Hidalgo implores local government to openly acknowledge the effect climate change has in creating destructive storms and massive floods that have hit Houston and the surrounding regions hard the last few years. She says that in order for Harris County to prepare for the next flooding event, we must accept the science behind climate change and react accordingly.
Noting that “before Hurricane Harvey, we had two 500-year floods in two years,” Hidalgo calls on the county government to take proactive action against storms, rather than simply reacting after they hit. She says taking concrete action before hurricanes not only can save millions of dollars, but it can save lives, too.
In addition, Hidalgo says more support must be given to the marginalized communities, such as the elderly and poor who are often disproportionately affected by flooding, such as those hit hardest by Harvey. Hidalgo calls for a more transparent process with greater public input when using taxpayer money to recover from destructive flooding damage. She said, “My opponent just approved $105 million to remodel the Astrodome, while thousands of Harris County residents still can’t return to their homes because of black mold from Harvey. Our people deserve to be heard.”
View this post on Instagram
On this rainy Fourth of July, I’m navigating flooded streets in Harris County like so many of you. I am watching people struggle to keep their cars from flooding because I am too. We have yet to overcome the vulnerabilities that Harvey, and so many floods before it, exposed and it is disheartening to see the state of our county's infrastructure continue to fail our residents. I am with you all. I am hoping we can each get home safely to our families today and that when the sun comes back out and the rain stops we can remember the importance of holding our government accountable and electing proactive leadership to make days like today easier on us all. Please, stay safe. Turn around if the water looks too high. Don't risk it. We need you each.
In the same Chronicle op-ed, Hidalgo says that Harris County emits the most CO2 compared with every other county in the United States. To combat these pollution levels, she supports initiatives that invites both private and public sectors to lower their emissions. She also wants to diversify energy resources in the region beyond just oil and gas, including solar and wind power. Hidalgo argues that destructive storms like Harvey and devastating floods will only continue to worsen if Texas continue to ignore its carbon footprint.
Another heavy focus of Hidalgo’s run for Harris County judge is increasing transparency and access to Harris County government. To start out, she says “Our standard should be townhalls all the time. Even when it’s not on the eve of an election.” Lina Hidalgo advocates for making data easily accessible to residents, whether it be the results of a county project or the progress on a procurement project.
Moreover, Hidalgo supports hosting community meetings before the County Commissioners Court makes decisions to ensure that residents know what’s going on before it’s too late. She argues that residents should know when and where the Harris County Commissioners are meeting, because “then we would have learned these crises were coming.” For example, she points to homes built on the floodplains, saying “We should have transparent information for when you buy a home – you’re in the 500-year floodplain, in the reservoir. We should have had that [information] a long time ago.”
Harris County Bail System
Lina Hidalgo strongly advocates for reforming the Harris County bail system. Calling it an “unconstitutional and ineffective system,” she says it disproportionately and unfairly incarcerates poor people. She has publicly spoken out against this system, appearing at a press conference with Texas Organizing Project (TOP) to advocate that taxpayer money is used to serve the community and not to defend a bail system that “violates the due process and equal protection clause of the Constitution.”
She says this taxpayer money would better be spent implementing policies that support residents, saying “It’s fundamentally unfair to keep poor people arrested.” Beyond the issue of bail, Lina Hidalgo has spent years researching the criminal justice system in Texas and has found that quality representation is critical to a fair legal process. She says that no matter one’s income, everyone deserves good representation when standing before the court.
Having immigrated from Columbia as a child, Hidalgo speaks from experience when discussing immigration policy. During the DACA negotiations that took place in early 2018, she said it’s unacceptable that children are being “used as bargaining chips.” She strongly opposes the building of a detention center for undocumented children in Harris County, as well as the practice of taking children from their parents. In addition, Hidalgo does not support SB4, also known as the “show me your papers” legislation, saying it “undermines local government and ultimately makes us all less safe.”
On the topic of Harris County specifically, Lina Hidalgo says that the local government has failed to “stand up for 25% of its residents – immigrants.” Going further, she points to the all-male, mostly white Commissioner’s Court, saying “You know something is wrong when 25% of our community doesn’t have a seat at the table.”
In an op-ed for the Kennedy School Review, Hidalgo says fighting systemic inequality in Harris County starts with properly funding childhood education. She says early education is crucial in giving children the tools and skills they need to develop into successful adults. Pointing to the many studies that demonstrate the long-term effectiveness of early childhood education, Hidalgo says “unequal access to early childhood education results in even greater inequality throughout the rest of one’s life.”
In addition, she calls on the Harris County government to put one cent of every home’s value toward early childhood education. This measure was originally supported by thousands of voters in 2013 but the county blocked this measure from appearing on the ballot for public voting. Lina Hidalgo argues that Harris County must put this issue on the ballot box or fund a pilot program to measure the effectiveness of the program.
Hidalgo says that “As the third largest county in the nation, we can and must lead the charge for gun safety.” One of her proposals is that gun shows should not be able to sell guns without background checks. She says guns shows that refuse to enforce background checks should be barred from using Harris County public buildings, such as arenas and convention centers for their events. Also, Lina Hidalgo advocates for a gun buy-back program so that Harris County gun owners can turn over unwanted firearms in an effort to lower instances of gun violence in homes.
Hidalgo points to the high rate of maternal deaths, including deaths during childbirth, as one of her reasons for choosing to run for Harris County judge. She says these deaths can be prevented with improved funding and health care programs. On the topic of abortion, Lina Hidalgo said to KUT 90.5 that “for a girl or woman to be pregnant when she doesn’t want to, it’s complex … it’s part of a bigger battle.” When pressed again, she says she’s pro-choice, but “it’s not an issue under the purview of the County Judge and the Commissioner’s Court.” For what it’s worth, Planned Parenthood endorsed Hidalgo earlier this year.
Lina Hidalgo is very supportive of the LGBTQ community, from advocating for county-wide anti-discrimination policies to ensuring public hospitals address unique issues facing the community. She also calls for enforcing anti-discrimination policies for LGBTQ individuals when it comes to public housing. The Houston GLBT Political Caucus endorsed Hidalgo’s run for Harris County Judge earlier this year.
Harris County, Texas 2016 election results
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won Texas by 9 points. However, Hillary Clinton won Harris County in 2016. In 2012, Mitt Romney won Texas by 15.8 points.
Find out your Harris County voting location & registration status
You can check if you’re registered to vote in Harris County with this Texas Sec. of State voting finder. This tool also allows you to register to vote in Harris County, find your voting location and learn more early voting information.
Harris County early voting
To vote early in Texas, in-person early voting begins October 22, 2018. You can visit your nearest polling place in person in Harris County up until November 2, 2018. After that time, you can still vote on Election Day at your nearest polling location based on your address. A tool provided by Harris Votes tool can help you find the nearest voting precinct near you.
If you are voting by mail in Harris County, here is the mailing ballot application from the county clerk’s office. It must be received by Nov. 6 at 7:00pm. The only exception is if the ballot is postmarked Nov. 6. In that case, your ballot will be counted up until Nov 7 at 5:00pm. https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2018-important-election-dates.shtml
- Stan Stanart
- Harris County Clerk
- Attn: Elections Division
- P.O. Box 1148
- Houston, TX 77251-1148
Please be aware that if you choose to send an early voting application via email or fax, you still must mail in your application to the above address. This is due to a recent law change.
Harris County clerk fax number:
- (713)-755-4983, or
Harris County clerk email:
Where do I vote in Harris County, TX
Take a look at this extremely helpful Harris County election information site from former Democratic Rep. Scott Hochberg. I’ve checked through each of the links and they are correct and legitimate. He has lots of good information, especially on Harris County in-person early voting locations and hours.
Important Note: If you choose to vote on Election Day, you MUST vote at the precinct where you are registered to vote. If it’s Election Day and you don’t know where to vote today in Harris County, search for your nearest polling place by address with this tool.
Military & overseas voting information for Harris County, Texas.
What to bring when voting in Harris County
Unsure of what to bring with you when voting in person? Here’s a list of acceptable ID’s you can bring with you to vote in a Harris County election. In short, a Texas driver’s license, personal ID card issued by DPS, military ID card (with photograph), Texas handgun license and a Texas election identification certificate from DPS are acceptable IDs to use when voting. A birth certificate with your photo or U.S. passport will also work for voting.
If you don’t have an ID, you can vote in Harris County by providing one of the following documents that shows your current name and address:
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
More ways to support Lina Hidalgo
Donate directly to her campaign
Like her Facebook page
Follow her on Twitter @Lina4HC
Follow Hidalgo’s campaign on Instagram @lina4hc
Examples of hashtags to use when talking about Lina Hidalgo on social media
Shari Rose is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @blurredbylines or like Blurred Bylines on Facebook. For more coverage on the progressive women running for office this coming November, visit Women Running For Office Project
Copyright© 2018 Blurred Bylines