We have our first public announcement of interest in filling the late El Franco Lee’s seat on Commissioner’s Court.
Longtime state Sen. Rodney Ellis has begun making calls to local Democratic Party leaders and plans to run for the Harris County Commissioner seat left vacant after the death of El Franco Lee, a spokesman said Thursday night.
County Judge Ed Emmett will announce and swear in Lee’s temporary replacement in Precinct 1 on Friday and Lee’s name will remain on the ballot for the primary.
But Ellis’ campaign spokesman David Edmonson said late Thursday the Houston lawmaker was not pursuing Emmett’s interim appointment. Ellis has researched the statute, and has asked an aide to lay out the steps a candidate like him would need to take to get his name removed from the November ballot for senator should the Democratic Party chairs choose him as the general election candidate for the commissioner’s seat.
Sen. Ellis has contacted me about this; he was calling precinct chairs, and I’m on that list. He’s not the only person I have heard from, but he is the first to be public about it. The post I wrote about what I’m looking for in a successor to Commissioner Lee was written after those conversations, to help me organize and fill out my thoughts on the matter. Sen. Ellis does meet my qualifications, but I’m waiting to see who else publicly expresses an interest before I commit to anyone. If Sen. Ellis wins the election of the precinct chairs, we will then have to go through a similar exercise to replace him on the ballot in SD13, but as I am not in that Senate district, I will not be a part of that. PDiddie has more.
In the meantime, County Judge Ed Emmett has made his choice for interim Commissioner.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Friday named Gene Locke, a former city attorney and mayoral candidate, to complete El Franco Lee’s term on Commissioners Court.
Locke, 68, a senior partner at the Andrews Kurth law firm, served as city attorney under the late Mayor Bob Lanier in the 1990s and ran for mayor in 2009, losing in a runoff to Annise Parker.
“I plan to be a hands-on, on the ground, let’s get with the program commissioner, which means that I will follow in El Franco’s footsteps,” Locke said.
He added: “This precinct belongs to El Franco Lee, and anything that I do over the next several months is dedicated to him.”
Asked if he intended to run for the post in November, Locke said, “My intention is to go back to the practice of law and enjoy my family.”
Here’s Judge Emmett’s press release. We know that new Commissioner Locke can keep a secret, so if he does have something up his sleeve, we’ll know it when he’s ready to let us know it. Honestly, though, I take him at his word. I will be more than a little shocked if Gene Locke winds up on the list of names for us precinct chairs to consider. Locke was chosen after Commissioner Lee’s widow passed on being considered for the post. I join with many others in wishing Commissioner Locke all the best with the new gig.