The Chron covers the HCAD elections

At long, long last.

Most Houston-area property owners likely are unaware that the amount of taxes they owe is decided, in part, by a group of local appraisers overseen by a little-known board of directors. But for the first time they are being asked to elect three of those board members on May 4.

Texans who voted for a ballot proposition last November to lower property taxes may have noticed that, at the bottom of the measure, they also voted to add three seats to their local appraisal district’s board of directors that would be elected positions, rather than appointed. Five months later, candidates now are running for those board seats, though some are not quite certain why the positions are up for election in the first place.

Even some members of the Texas Legislature are unaware that these races are underway, State Rep. Christina Morales, a Houston Democrat, said Tuesday.

“In one of the group texts, I said, ‘You realize there’s an election on May 4?’ And two in the group said ‘I had no clue,'” Morales said. “These are my colleagues who voted on this piece of legislation.”

The proposition was put on the November ballot after the Texas Legislature passed a bill creating the newly elected positions pending voter approval.

Additionally, Morales argued the election date was set for May, rather than November, to ensure very little attention or participation in a contest that she says shouldn’t even be held at all.

“I’m not sure it’s a good idea to bring politics into the taxation process,” Morales said. “Having another election that’s just after the primary and before the runoff means that we will have a low voter turnout. It feels as though that’s intentional.”


HCAD board members have the power to hire and fire the chief appraiser, a position held by Roland Altinger since 2016.

The new appraisal district seats are nonpartisan, with no party listed for the candidates on the ballot. While Bettencourt has not yet endorsed candidates in the three HCAD races, Morales said at a news conference on Tuesday that she’s supporting a slate of candidates for the HCAD board endorsed by the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation – Kathy Blueford-Daniels, Melissa Noriega and Pelumi Adeleke.

Blueford-Daniels, a candidate for the place 1 position running against Ramsey Isa Ankar and Bill R. Frazer, said one of her priorities would be increasing public awareness of exemptions to reach taxpayers who don’t realize they’re able to lower their bill. Blueford-Daniels is a former HCAD board member who also previously served as a Houston ISD trustee.

Noriega, a former Houston City Council member, stressed that taxes are necessary in order to fund services from ambulances to police departments to school districts. Noriega – who is running for the place 2 position on the HCAD board against Janice W. Hines, Kyle Scott, Jevon German and Austin Pooley – said she’s also questioning the purpose of the election.

“The appraisal district isn’t broken,” Noriega said. “As Rep. Morales said, we’re not absolutely sure this needed to be put into law, but it’s here, and you need folks that are fair, transparent, that have some sense of what’s at stake and do a good job.”

Adeleke, a first-time candidate who works in global business development at Amazon Web Services, said her goal is to ensure a more transparent process. She’s running for the place 3 position against J. Bill, Amy Lacy, Mark V. Goloby and Ericka McCrutcheon.

You can finally add this to that Houston Landing story from a couple of weeks ago to tell you something about these elections. Hope you’ve been listening to my interviews, because that’s all you’ve gotten otherwise. This article was clearly written because of the press conference that the three named candidates held, which makes me wonder if we were going to get any coverage if the issue hadn’t been forced in this way. I’m going to pull my head out of the gift horse’s mouth and leave that be for now.

If this article is your introduction to the HCAD elections, you’ve probably still got a lot of questions about why we’re doing this and who you’re being asked to vote for. The candidates themselves were asking that first question, which remains a matter of speculation about Paul Bettencourt’s motives. One thought I’ve heard is that this could be a way to replace existing chief appraisers with ones that are more inclined to slash rates for ideological purposes. I’d rather not test that hypothesis. At least now I know who the HCAD chief appraiser is. Now let’s see if the Chron offers endorsements in these races. Early voting starts Monday, so there’s no time to lose.

UPDATE: Houston Public Media also had a story yesterday, also clearly based on that press conference. A bit more on the background, not as much on the candidates.

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3 Responses to The Chron covers the HCAD elections

  1. Pingback: Good luck finding any info about those county appraisal board elections | Off the Kuff

  2. C.L. says:

    I’d be very interested to know if ANY of these candidates have a basic understanding of how commercial or residential real estate is valued, and if any of them realize that how a taxing authority assesses a market value and how an independent third party assesses a market value to the same residential property is two different methods.

  3. Ross says:

    Appraisers can’t change rates, just values.

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