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Meet your new County Clerk

Hello, Chris Hollins.

Chris Hollins

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday appointed an attorney and Texas Democratic Party official as interim county clerk.

Christopher Hollins, vice finance chairman for the state party, will serve until a new clerk can be elected in November. Incumbent Diane Trautman, who was elected in 2018, announced May 9 she would step down because of health issues.

The court voted 3-2 along party lines to approve Hollins. Five public speakers urged court members to choose Teneshia Hudspeth, Trautman’s chief deputy. County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said Hollins’ pledge to serve only on an interim basis factored in their decision.

Hollins was selected after 10 p.m., more than 12 hours after Commissioners Court convened, and was unavailable for comment.

He previously worked as a senior manager at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and intern at Goldman Sachs and the White House Office of Presidential Personnel during the Obama administration, according to his personal website. He has never held elected office.

See here for the background. You can find Hollins’ Twitter here and his bio here. He released a statement later last night here, and the County Clerk’s office released one here. From skimming Facebook, the folks I read seem to be positive about him and his appointment. Clearly, the Commissioners wanted the Clerk to focus entirely on running the election and not running for their own election. That is certainly a reasonable position to take, and it means that we precinct chairs will get to pick a candidate of our choice. Fine by me.

Also mentioned in the story was Commissioner Ellis’ proposal about an appointed elections administrator, which was discussed but no action was taken. I saw somewhere that the Harris County Republican Party Chair was opposed to the idea, which is his right. My guess is that this is the end of it, but you never know. Campos, Stace, and The Texas Signal have more.

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7 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    The segment of this week’s Commissioners Court session devoted to the concept of creating an EA was interesting. Alan Vera, head of ballot security for the HCRP, spoke in opposition, cautioning the Court that EAs are difficult to remove, are not immune from mishaps (he cited several recent ones), and according to Mr. Vera have an agenda of reducing the number of polling places fostered by their professional association. Lillie Schechter spoke to indicate her interest as Chair of HCDP and noted that she has heard from folks who are supportive of a conversion as well as from folks adamantly opposed. She also requested that the Court make available to the public a concise document summarizing Doug Ray’s (County Attorney’s Office) presentation of the Election Commission and EA concept. Commissioner Ellis indicated that he thinks the County would need to hire an outside consultant in order to effectively evaluate and pursue this idea. As for Mr. Hollins, he is now in charge of a very capable team. We should be wishing all of them, and the VR team in the Tax Office, well as they navigate this exceedingly stressful election and pandemic.

  2. Chris Daniel says:

    He should address the issue that his firm is one of several representing the County on contingency in Federal Court. That might pose a conflict of interest on several fronts. Ethically he will need to disclose to his 94+ clients (cases) in Harris County that he is now County Clerk to assure that they have been made fully aware that he/his firm might not have the full time to dedicate to them for the next 7 months. It would have been better to have a non-party official (still a democrat) appointed then The VP of Finance for the state party. Any cases that originate in County Court or JP court he will need to withdraw from immediately per Section 82.064(b) of the Government Code

  3. brad says:

    Chris,

    “address the issue”, “ethically…need to”……look, the guy has been appointed in the position less than a half rotation of the earth. Do you really think he is not going to follow the book on this? If he doesn’t you can go jump back on your high horse.

    Specifically why would it have been better than a party official who happens to be a part of a political party’s finance team?

  4. Chris Daniel says:

    Brad, on the last line, he will need to do that immediately. I know Vince Ryan will already have a staffer walking him through most of this. As long as he either withdraws from the federal case, or does no work on the case during the 7 months of his term (the winner of the special election takes office immediately), he can avoid the conflict on double dipping while on county payroll. As far as the ethics of informing his clients, which he may not have thought was necessary, I point you to the Center for Legal Ethics opinion: https://www.legalethicstexas.com/Ethics-Resources/Opinions/Opinion-540. As far as WHY not a party official for the job: because the position is responsible for running elections. It looks bad at the minimum having a party official from either side running elections for which that side has a vested interest in determining the outcome. All that being said, good luck to a fellow young elected official–I hope he does the job well and without issue.

  5. brad says:

    Chris,

    You realize that every single County Clerk has had an (R) or (D) next to their name…right?

    Are you suggesting that all these previous political party affiliated clerks had some vested interest in the outcome?

    Let’s say that Hollins single focus will be in a vested interest to determine the outcome. Since it appears that the county clerk is unfortunately beholden somehow to the 2 major political parties and consults these parties for particulars on voting how would Hollins do that?

    You’ve read the papers and seen the extremes to which the currently one political party run state executive and legislature have shown bias to determining the outcomes of elections? Are you concerned with this behavior?

  6. Joshua ben bullard says:

    He received the appointment , hes a family man and a lawyer in good standing , He deserves a fair shot like anyone else .

  7. Rodney Ellis calling the shots.