Harris County political observers were left to scratch their heads this week when the Houston Chronicle announced their endorsement in the race for Harris County Judge, giving their nod to Republican Alexandra Del Moral Mealer.
The political newcomer Mealer has padded her campaign war chest with millions of dollars in contributions from mega-donors and county contractors that Hidalgo has refused to take contributions from. Even still, Mealer has run a disciplined if deceptive campaign centered largely around crime, which is central to the Chronicle’s rationale.
It poses a challenging question in races for these critical executive seats: does accomplishment really matter?
Hidalgo has led Harris County with skill and poise through crisis after crisis. She provided leadership on the vote for voting rights in Texas, steered Harris County through everything from hurricanes to chemical fires, and took life-saving action during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The incumbent has also staked out a far more nuanced position on crime than her opponents would suggest. While Harris County has struggled with some of the same issues with crime that other major cities are facing, the county has increased its law enforcement budget every year under Hidalgo’s leadership to date, and crime has begun to come down, though not quickly enough.
And it seems the most significant threat to fully funding law enforcement in the county is coming from Mealer’s side of the aisle.
Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court have been defunding police by default with their stubborn refusal to simply show up for work. The two Republicans, Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, have boycotted the last two meetings of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, leaving the county’s fiscal budget up in the air.
While Cagle has submitted his own proposal for an alternative tax rate that will fall short of funding vital services, including in the county’s health department, his refusal to return to work along with Ramsey is an insult to the emergency responders he claims to support and an irresponsible betrayal of the public trust.
At every turn, Hidalgo has put Harris County first. Her work has made Harris County safer and more resilient and has helped put the county on a path that invests in the future of every resident. That’s the type of leadership Texans should be proud of, not spreading lies about.
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