December 20, 2008
More on Leo Vasquez

Here's the full Chron story on Leo Vasquez, who appears to be the favorite to be selected by Commissioners Court as Paul Bettencourt's replacement for Harris County Tax Assessor. Just a couple of points to note. First, since I was curious how the Democrats on Commissioners Court might react to his name:

Democratic Commissioner Sylvia Garcia said Vasquez probably would be the most-qualified person the county has ever had in that position. But she said she will not decide whether to vote for him until she hears more about how he plans to handle some of the challenges facing that office, especially when it comes to voter registration.

Good to hear that. It would be very nice to get a commitment from Vasquez that he plans to run the office like a professional and not a partisan. I hope Commissioner Garcia presses him on that point.

Since the subject of qualifications came up, I'm glad to hear that Vasquez is well-qualified for the office. Let's turn the clock back ten years to see how that matter was handled the last time this office came open.

The local Republican Party nominated its own vice chairman for Harris County tax assessor-collector Monday, rejecting the current officeholder - an African-American who promised to widen the party's appeal - and other contenders.

A vote by the party's precinct chairmen gave the nomination to business consultant Paul Bettencourt, who has been the local party vice chairman since May. He promised to modernize the county tax assessor's office and push for tax cuts.


A few precinct chairmen said Monday night their vote was not against [Willie] Alexander and his campaign outreach idea, but against his installation by the county commissioners before the party awarded the nomination.

"This was a vote against (Commissioner) Steve Radack and his Bill Clinton arrogance toward the Republican Party," precinct chairman and Bettencourt supporter Mike Dugas said.

I point this out because a few people have been pushing the patently silly claim that Democratic candidate Diane Trautman was not qualified to be Tax Assessor. The only factors that mattered in Bettencourt's selection as the Republican nominee in 1998 were his broad popularity among Republican precinct chairs plus a disagreement over Commissioners Court's decision to act before the Republican Party did. Whatever qualifications Bettencourt may have had for the job had nothing to do with it, and since 1998 was a GOP sweep year in Harris County, it wasn't a factor in the general election either. Funny how these things work, isn't it?

Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill said selecting Vasquez would show the commissioners are "serious about growing the party in the Hispanic community."

Like I said, some things never change. If Vasquez is who we're going to get, then I wish him well at the job. We'll see how it goes on Tuesday.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 20, 2008 to Local politics
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