The Chron circles back to the county races they didn’t get to the first time around, and for reasons I cannot fathom, they still love them some Orlando Sanchez.
The race for Harris County treasurer always seems to raise the same core questions about the office, such as: What is a county treasurer? Why do we have a county treasurer? And, who is the county treasurer?
For the past 12 years, the answer to last question has been Orlando Sanchez. We believe voters should make it the answer for the next four years, too.
The county treasurer is largely a ministerial office responsible for overseeing the payment of all expenditures made by the county government. Basically, he runs the checkbook.
There isn’t too much excitement to the position, and habitually people will run for the office on the grounds that it should be eliminated and responsibilities moved elsewhere within county government. Neither candidate is calling for that in this cycle.
Sanchez, 61, is running on his record as a trustworthy steward of the office and touts his ongoing update of the internal financial system. He previously served on City Council, made a failed run for mayor and ended up here. He’s a licensed real estate agent and was born in Havana.
Challenger Dylan Osborne, who works for the city and has a master’s in public administration, told us he wants to bring a more active role to the treasurer’s office and get engaged with the public.
“I don’t think there’s 300 people who know this position,” he said during an editorial board meeting.
That’s probably true. We’re sure he’d do a fine job if elected.
The answer is always Orlando Sanchez. I got nothin’.
Richard Cantu, 49, is running for an open, at-large seat on the board of the Harris County Department of Education. The candidate has gotten to know our city well as an executive at the city of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Baker-Ripley and at the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office. As part of his various jobs, the native Houstonian formed partnerships with community groups as well as worked with youth.
In addition, he would bring an understanding of finance, budgeting and management to the board. In his current role, Cantu directs the day-to-day operation as deputy executive of one of the largest management districts in Harris County.
Andrea Duhon is our choice for this position at the only county department of education remaining in our state. This department needs more scrutiny, and Duhon’s background in cash flow analysis is apropos.
Duhon, 33, spends her professional life helping small businesses and individuals structure their finances. In our screenings, the McNeese State University graduate showed an appreciation of the importance of the after-school and Head Start programs offered by the department while expressing an enthusiasm for ferreting out inefficiencies. The spouse to an active duty 1st class petty officer in the U.S. Navy believes that the schools operated by the department could use more oversight.
Dems have two of the seven spots on HCDE right now. The At Large position belongs to Diane Trautman, so the best position we can be in is to have three seats. The other two At Large spots are up in 2020, so the potential is there for gain.
Last but not least, the Chron endorsed Adrian Garcia over incumbent Commissioner Jack Morman in Precinct 2.
Harris County is run by commissioners court, and no single member better reflects this dual nature of county government than Jack Morman. He’s media shy and stays out of the spotlight. Unlike other members of the court, Morman doesn’t seem to have a major personal project. He’s not building a greenbelt park system. He’s not calling for change in the criminal justice center. He hasn’t become a thought leader in resilience. He was first elected to this seat in 2010 after working as a civil attorney and since then Morman has held the seat quietly, effectively and scandal-free. He told us his big project involved better cooperation between the county and the local governments in this largely incorporated precinct.
We’re not convinced that’s enough.
County government can do more, and we believe that Adrian Garcia is the right man for the task.
The biggest difference between the candidates became clear during their joint meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board. Garcia presented what he saw as problems with Precinct 2, which largely covers east Harris County and a sliver of near Northside up to Beltway 8. He listed low health insurance coverage, poor educational attainment, dangerous pollution and a litany of other issues that needed addressing.
Morman, on the other hand, seemed to take offense at this description of the precinct and instead insisted it was a great place to live.
Just a reminder, Morman was this guy who came out of nowhere with a big boost from Steve Radack in the red wave year of 2010. He’s been more or less competent at the job, but no one should be surprised that he’s not exactly a visionary. As the endorsement suggests, I believe Garcia can and will get some stuff done.
My interview with Adrian Garcia is here, with Dylan Osborne is here, with Richard Cantu is here, and with Andrea Duhon is here. Danyahel Norris is also on the ballot for HCDE Position 6, Precinct 1, but he’s unopposed. My interview with him is here. The Chron also endorsed in Commissioners Court Precinct 4, going with incumbent Jack Cagle. Like Morman, Cagle has been a perfectly adequate Commissioner. He’s also got a long history with the anti-abortion industry, and as such I would never vote for him for anything. His opponent is Penny Shaw, and my interview with her is here.