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January 4th, 2022:

Interview with Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones

There are seven candidates in the Democratic primary for HD147, and I think it’s fair to say that one of them is better known than the others. That candidate is Jolanda Jones, who has been a fixture on the local political scene for the past two decades. Jones served two terms as an At Large City Council member and one term on the HISD Board of Trustees, and ran in the Democratic primary for Harris County Tax Assessor in 2020. You can check out my past interviews with her for those offices here. Jones is a criminal defense attorney, former track All American at the University of Houston, reality TV star, and reliably one of the more interesting people I get to talk to when it’s interview time. Our interview for HD147 is as follows:

As with the judicial Q&A’s, more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. I will periodically round up the links to these posts as well.

Judicial Q&A: Glenda Duru

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Glenda Duru

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

My name is Glenda Duru. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and am a proud Houstonian. I am honored to run for judgeship for the 313th Juvenile District Court of Harris County Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 313th Juvenile District Court hears both criminal (juvenile delinquency) and civil (family child protection) cases.

3. Why are you running for this bench?

I am running for this bench because I have a passion for children, youth, and families. I believe that Harris County continues to need representation in the judiciary, particularly when it comes to the juvenile courts. I believe that there is a need for change in the 313th District Court. The change I seek to bring will balance fairness, impartiality, and protection of the community.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I bring a wealth of professional experience in social work, child welfare, and the law that will serve me well in this position. I am a graduate of the University of Houston’s Masters of Social Work program as well as a graduate of Thurgood Marshall Law School. Earning my degrees from both of these outstanding Houston institutions prepared me for both theoretical and practical application of the practice of youth and family services, social work, and the law. For more than 10 years I have worked on the ground to support thriving families through social work and legal advocacy. For the last 4 years I have been particularly focused on child welfare law. As an experienced trial attorney, with over 250 trials, I have developed an expertise in advocating on behalf of a child or family, in service of the best interest of my client. In gaining this practical experience, I now impart this knowledge onto students as a trial advocacy professor at Thurgood Law School. I continue to be an avid learner of the law and committed to upholding the principles that govern our courts – to use the letter and spirit of the law for the greater good.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important to me because I have civilly prosecuted in 313th since 2018, and in my years in the court I have witnessed many things that have led me to see a need for change. There is a need to remove bias and prejudice that can so easily remove objectivity from the court’s ruling. Too often I have witnessed how the current court’s judgement has left the permanency of children in limbo. The court must be fair and make judgements based on the law. Too often I see that children have been made to be voiceless despite knowing that they are our future. The court is held to the highest levels of accountability to make sure that both children and families are protected by all means within the law.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am an advocate who seeks to bring change to the court that will support those who have been made most marginalized. Harris County citizens deserve a judge that is familiar with and a representation of the community; one who is fair, objective, and experienced. I will bring my years of experience to the bench to make impartial judgements that put the best interest of the children, youth, and families in my court first. Additionally, my work will not only be limited to the court room. I will continue to serve the community on the frontlines of education, community engagement and child protection. A vote for me, is a vote for the right Candidate.

The final official death toll from the big freeze

It’s undoubtedly an underestimate.

Texas has added 36 more deaths to the official death toll from the February snow and ice storm, bringing the total to 246 in what was one of the worst natural disasters in the state’s history.

The Department of State Health Services disclosed the new total in a report on the storm that was released Friday and described as the “final report” in an analysis by the department’s Disaster Mortality Surveillance Unit. The deaths occurred between Feb. 11 and June 4. The figure includes people who were injured in the storm but did not die until later, and also people whose bodies were found after the storm, including during repairs of damaged homes.

The 246 deaths spanned 77 counties and included victims ranging from less than 1 year old to 102 years old, according to the report. Close to two-thirds of the deaths were due to hypothermia. Of the deaths, the report classified 148 as “direct,” 92 as “indirect” and six as “possible,” using criteria developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DSHS previously pegged the death toll at 210 in July. The agency said in the report that it identifies deaths through “mortality surveillance forms, death certificates, and verification of informally reported deaths.”


In addition to hypothermia, DSHS attributed the storm-related deaths to “exacerbation of pre-existing illness” (10%), motor vehicle accidents (9%), carbon monoxide poisoning (8%), fires (4%) and falls (4%). The Texas Tribune and NBC News reported in December that portable generators, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, are some of the deadliest consumer products.

There are other ways to approach this question. Last spring Buzzfeed used “excess mortality” – a comparison to the actual number of deaths at that time to the historic baseline – and estimated that as many as a thousand people may have died as a result of the freeze. That comes with large error bars, but even the low end of that range is almost twice as much as the official DSHS tally. However you look at it, it was a lot, and it was totally unnecessary. And it remains a big risk going forward because Greg Abbott and the Legislature and the Railroad Commission did basically nothing to mitigate it. That’s the real headline here.

Corbevax gets its approval


The Peoples Vaccine
Image courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine today announced Corbevax — a protein sub-unit COVID-19 vaccine — has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India to launch in that nation.

The vaccine has been developed in Houston by Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi.

Hotez called the approval “an important first step in vaccinating the world and halting the pandemic.”


Bottazzi and Hotez led efforts at Texas Children’s Hospital to develop the “initial construct and production process of the vaccine antigen.” After the vaccine was found to be “safe, well tolerated and immunogenic,” the Drugs Controller General of India granted emergency use authorization.

Corbevax completed two Phase III clinical trials with more than 3,000 subjects. The trials suggested a better immune response to the Ancestral-Wuhan strain of the virus as well as the delta variant compared to Covishield, which was developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca. None of the subjects showed severe adverse reactions to the vaccine; and adverse effects in the study were half of those from Covishield.

See here for the background. Vaccine supply isn’t a problem in the US and Europe but it is a problem in many parts of the world. We know very well that the more opportunities this virus gets to spread and mutate, the more chances it has to turn into something worse and more dangerous. Hopefully Corbevax can help close that gap. Kudos to all involved. Here’s the Texas Children’s Hospital page about Corbevax and its development, and CultureMap has more.