Q&A: Hear from the Democratic candidates for Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner


Penny Shaw and Jeff Stauber have filed to run on the Democratic ticket for Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner in the March primary election. The winner will face incumbent Republican Jack Cagle in the November election.

Penny Shaw

Years lived in Precinct 4: six years

Experience: Shaw has been a business owner for more than 20 years and an attorney for 18 years.

Top priorities: flood management, fiscal transparency, comprehensive planning


How does your experience qualify you to be a good representative for Precinct 4?

As a three-time business owner, I have successfully built business-management systems, managed operations and balanced budgets. In 18 years of legal practice, I have worked in many fields and with many levels of the government and the private sector. This allows me to easily grasp county issues and work broadly with all departments and sectors. I handled cases and worked with experts dealing with engineering, construction projects, land acquisition, employee rights, school boards, child and family rights, environmental issues; I was general counsel for a health care group; I have been appointed by county government to work in both criminal and civil capacities; and I have worked with seniors and elder law. I have worked with local, state, and federal congressional leaders and will confidently work with them to manage county business.

What do you see as the most important role of a precinct commissioner?

As one of the chief administrators of county affairs, it is paramount that commissioners be well-informed on all decision-making to ensure the best stewardship of county tax dollars.

As commissioner, what role would you play in flood-mitigation efforts in Precinct 4?

I will take a comprehensive approach to crafting an immediate disaster-preparedness plan and harness resources—including funding sources, expert flood and disaster advisers, community partnerships and county department resources—to build a long-term and sustainable flood-mitigation plan. Any comprehensive plan will include looking at measures, such as land acquisition, passive flood zones and grants for property owners. I will also investigate how to protect our port and industry facilities that are most susceptible to natural disasters. Residents should not have to face another disaster without safeguards and comprehensive preparedness and recovery models in place.

Jeff Stauber

Years lived in Precinct 4: 32 years

Experience: Stauber has worked for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 32 years and currently serves as Harris County deputy.

Top priorities: flood control, Harris County’s economy, safety


How does your experience qualify you to be a good representative for Precinct 4?

I am a 32-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and have proudly served as a commander for the majority of my career. I am also a successful local business owner. As a law-enforcement veteran, I have seen the impact that systemic crime can have on neighborhoods, and it is an environment where families and commerce cannot thrive. I have built a business from the ground up, and that experience will give me insight into fostering economic growth for all of Precinct 4. I believe these experiences will aid me as a county commissioner because I have the experience to run the county, I have worked in and out of most of the county facilities and services, and I have the experience of managing a great many county employees.

What do you see as the most important role of a precinct commissioner?

The county commissioner’s primary responsibility will be to manage and oversee the budget. As a commander in the sheriff’s office, I have experience working with the budget office to maximize benefits while minimizing costs. In managing the budget, a county commissioner must make sure that every item adds to the safety and well-being of the county or adds economic benefit to the county. One area of focus is transportation improvements, such as better public transportation, keeping roadways clear of trash and debris, and engaging with our regional partners to find solutions to get commuters traveling quickly and safely.  [By] focusing on safety and infrastructure, there will be local job growth, and I will push for living wages in all infrastructure project jobs.

As commissioner, what role would you play in flood-mitigation efforts in Precinct 4?

As commissioner I must play an integral and active role in flood-mitigation efforts. I have seen and worked many flooding events in Precinct 4. I know where the problems are, and I will be leading the efforts in Commissioners Court for the current recovery and mitigation of future flooding events. I am committed to working with the entire region to implement flood-control measures that account for both localized flooding scenarios and issues with upstream rain events. We must prepare the county to the realities of climate change, and smart flood-control infrastructure needs to be put into place that accounts for flooding, the needs of first responders during flooding events and equally serves [Harris County].

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Zac Ezzone
Zac Ezzone began his career as a journalist in northeast Ohio, where he freelanced for a statewide magazine and local newspaper. In April 2017, he moved from Ohio to Texas to join Community Impact Newspaper. He worked as a reporter for the Spring-Klein edition for more than a year before becoming the editor of the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition.
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