Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has a lot of accomplishments to tout.
Harris County in the past year has made significant progress on flood control, criminal justice and improving public health, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in her first State of the County address Friday.
The county executive also announced her administration would make significant investments in early childhood development in the coming year.
Hidalgo said the Houston area continues to enjoy a bustling economy and low unemployment, but said business and government leaders must not be complacent.
“To a veteran coming home ill-prepared for the 21st century job market, a low unemployment rate doesn’t mean much,” Hidalgo said at the annual luncheon, held this year at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel downtown. “To a family who struggles, a great medical center can’t help them if they don’t have health insurance.”
She lauded a historic settlement to reform the county’s bail system for misdemeanor defendants, which a federal judge had declared unconstitutional. Hidalgo thanked Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who has long been an advocate on criminal justice issues.
She noted that in response to a series of chemical fires in east Harris County, Commissioners Court significantly increased the size of the pollution control and fire marshal’s offices, as well as purchased new air monitors.
“We’ve established the most robust environmental policy that Harris County has seen in at least 30 years,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo thanked the county’s flood control district and engineering department for speeding up work on the $2.5 billion flood infrastructure program and fast-tracking drainage projects in 105 subdivisions.
She also said her office has made county government more transparent by holding a series of town halls, developing a 311 call system and making a greater effort to include the public at more open, albeit lengthy, Commissioners Court meetings. Hidalgo said to date, four times as many residents have participated than last year.
You can see a copy of Judge Hidalgo’s prepared remarks here. I like the way she addressed the “concerns” some people had about her age, noting that the legendary Judge Roy Hofheinz was three years younger than she was when he was first elected. I think she has a lot to be proud of, and there’s clearly a lot more she has in mind to do. I’m looking forward to it. The Texas Signal has more.