Endorsement watch: Dudley and Sullivan

The Chron makes its endorsements in the Tax Assessor primaries.

Brandon Dudley

Brandon Dudley

It is the time of year when the Harris County tax assessor-collector gains sudden prominence: Jan. 31 is the due date to pay property taxes, and Feb. 1 is the last day to register for party primary elections. Both of those duties are handled by the tax assessor-collector’s office, in addition to vehicle registrations and title transactions. These basic services demand that the office be run with customer satisfaction and ease as the highest goals. With these priorities in mind, we endorse incumbent Mike Sullivan in the Republican primary and Brandon Dudley in the Democratic primary.

This year’s Republican primary for Harris County tax assessor-collector is a rematch from four years ago, when Mike Sullivan ousted incumbent Don Sumners. At the time, Sullivan offered a customer-focused alternative to Sumners’ office, which faced accusations of being overly politicized. The battlelines haven’t changed since. Sumners, 76, says he is running to serve as a self-proclaimed taxpayer advocate and watchdog.

“If you want an administrator, Sullivan is your man,” Sumners told the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

Mike Sullivan

Mike Sullivan

That’s exactly what we want. An administrator can ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively, and focus on the duties of office.


When she met with the editorial board, Democratic candidate Ann Harris Bennett, 62, had no difficulty listing the litany of problems she saw with the current incumbent tax assessor-collector. Brandon Dudley, however, listed the solutions. Dudley currently serves as chief of staff and general counsel for state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and that experience in the state Legislature is apparent. A graduate of the University of Houston Law Center with a background in social work, Dudley is a regular policy wonk. He is quick to point out the ways that wealthy commercial landowners can exploit loopholes in the property appraisal system, which shifts the tax burden onto average homeowners. Dudley, 42, has even reached out to other tax assessor-collectors across the state in search of innovative ideas and best practices for the office.

Bennett has run for this office once before, and she has a firm grasp of where it is today. Dudley has a vision for the future.

The Chron is far too kind to Sumners, who wasn’t just an overly political Tax Assessor, but also a massively incompetent Tax Assessor. I mean, any random third grader in HISD would do a better job than Sumners did in his two-year reign of error. To call this a no-brainer is to greatly understate the matter.

As for the Democratic side, my interview with Brandon Dudley is here and my interview with Ann Harris Bennett is here. One suspects that the Chron would be happy to endorse a random third grader over Don Sumners in November if he manages to win the GOP primary, but they will have a tougher choice if Mike Sullivan prevails. They did slap him on the wrist for not supporting online voter registration, so that may be the fulcrum on which their decision turns for the fall. But please, Republicans, don’t make it easy on them. You know as well as the rest of us what an idiot Sumners is. Let’s not take any chances that he could get his old job back.

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9 Responses to Endorsement watch: Dudley and Sullivan

  1. brad m says:

    Sullivan’s decline for online voter registration is election official malpractice. And his weak argument against it are baseless.

  2. Jason says:

    But he will be re-elected.

  3. Joshua ben bullard says:

    Ann Harris Bennett has super strong name identification, she missed last time by a few hundred votes against Sullivan, I am certain the democrats will pile the votes on heavy in her favor,I put Bennett at 53% and dudley at 47% on election night.you can bet the house on it.

  4. Sullivan must be voted out.

    Sullivan says he wouldn’t know how to implement online voter registration?

    All he has to do is look at 26 other states.
    Louisiana had it,
    It’s not rocket science.

    It’s like Bill King’s comments on municipal id and how to finance it.
    Most major cities have the users finance the id.

    They are only pandering to tea party wackos and anti middle class super pac’s

  5. voter_worker says:

    When Texas implements online voter registration I predict it will create a two-tier voter registration process that will block unregistered citizens with ID problems…just as registered voters with ID problems are blocked from voting under the current voter ID laws. They will be automatically denied access to the new and improved system and have to register by paper. One has only to look at Arizona’s portal to online voter registration, which requires a current drivers license/state ID or voter registration number to access the system, for an example of what I’m predicting. Call me a cynic, but I trust that the Texas Legislature will design an exclusionary system. Criticism of Voter Registrar Sullivan is warranted because implementation of this technology is inevitable, but in my opinion it’s na├»ve for anyone to believe that it will necessarily be a fair and even-handed system.

  6. BRAD M says:

    Sullivan also needs to implement same day voter registration.

    Previously he has said this would be too hard. This should be embarrassing for him and his office. Many states have been able to do this successfully for years.

  7. voter_worker says:

    Brad M: That’s currently not allowed by the Texas Election Code and is not a practice that a local Voter Registrar can implement at their discretion, if I’m not mistaken. The difficulty or lack thereof is beside the point. I suspect his reference is to the inability of a small staff to successfully vet, during early voting and on election day, the volume of address problems that would inevitably arise, which was the original purpose for the current 30-day waiting period.

  8. Brad,

    Mike Sullivan won’t pass same day voter registration.

    Same day registration makes it easier for students, seniors and others to vote.

    God forbid we do that.

    Roughly 16 states have pased Same Day Registration.


    It’s not rocket science.

  9. Ross says:

    Joe, how can Sullivan pass same day registration when that’s a function for the Legislature? You are really getting off track on these suggestions, ignoring what can actually be done ny the party you duggest.

Comments are closed.