HARConnect

Harris County, the First Year Under County Judge Hidalgo

It has been one year, since Judge Lina Hidalgo was sworn in as the Harris County Judge. She is the first Latina and woman to hold the seat. Day One on the job, she hit the ground running as the top executive and crisis manager for the fourth largest county in the United States. The Harris County Judge is not a “legal” role as the title may suggest. Rather, it is the presiding officer over the Harris County Commissioners Court, oversees a budget of $4.3 billion and county departments, directs emergency management, handles roads, flooding issues, criminal justice, public health and many other county related issues.

What has happened in Judge Hidalgo’s first year?

  • Implemented a 3-1-1 system for County services, similar to the one the City of Houston uses.
  • Created more transparency in County government. She held the County’s first-ever open transition process and held seven town hall meetings across Harris County and conducted a survey that brought together 200+ community organizations and received 11,000 responses.
  • Sped the delivery of flood bond projects and ensured they were equitable after the passage of the 2018 Flood Control bond. Out of the 250 flood bond projects, more than half are already approved. 
  • Fast-tracked drainage improvement projects for the 105 subdivisions hit the hardest by Hurricane Harvey and flooded due to poor drainage infrastructure.
  • Led successful response to Tropical Storm Imelda and launched the Imelda Assistance Fund in partnership with Mayor Sylvester Turner. The fund has raised more than $500,000 in donations and commitments to provide direct resources to those impacted.
  • Reformed environmental protection, monitoring and enforcement. The County has allocated more than $11 million to build a new air monitoring network, increased the size of the pollution control department by more than 50% and added resources for HazMat First Responders. This is the most significant action taken in environmental protections in at least 30 years.
  • HAR’s Governmental Affairs and Advocacy team maintains relationships with leaders like Judge Hidalgo, so HAR can have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made at all levels of government. Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, we have increased our participation in flooding and infrastructure projects around the county. In 2019, HAR worked to get bills passed which created funding dedicated to disaster relief, a debris management plan and training for cities and counties, a disaster recovery task force, and disaster plans for local officials and state agencies.

To read more about the work Judge Hidalgo and Harris County Commissioners are doing, visit www.harristhrives.org.

Amber Burton-Alfred

Amber Burton-Alfred

Director of Governmental Affairs & Advocacy
amber@har.com

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