Lina Hidalgo reflects on boundary-pushing first year in State of the County address

At the annual State of the County address Nov. 15, County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke on several initiatives launched in 2019, including criminal justice reform and emergency recovery, among other topics. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
At the annual State of the County address Nov. 15, County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke on several initiatives launched in 2019, including criminal justice reform and emergency recovery, among other topics. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)

At the annual State of the County address Nov. 15, County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke on several initiatives launched in 2019, including criminal justice reform and emergency recovery, among other topics. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is entering her second year as judge with a number of major initiatives underway.

In a State of the County address given Nov. 15 at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston, Hidalgo outlined some of her key accomplishments in 2019 with an emphasis on the ways she has sought to involve county government in issues she said were not prioritized in the past.

“Many, many times during the campaign folks sat across from me and tried to convive me that the role of the county judge was about roads and bridges,” she said in a press conference following the address. “We have a budget that tops $5 billion. That’s more than bridge money.”

Hidalgo used the address to talk about both county initiatives that were passed with full support of the commissioners court—including using a voting center system for county elections and bolstering environmental protections in the county—as well as initiatives that passed along party lines, such as bail bond reform and a reprioritizing of flood control bond projects to take social vulnerability into account.

Hidalgo said a guiding principle throughout her first year in office has been trying to get people more involved in county government. Shortly after taking office, Hidalgo hosted a series of meetings in the community that she said were designed to educate people on how the county functions and gather input on what policies people wanted to see enacted.


Four times as many people attended commissioners court meetings in 2019 compared to 2018, Hidalgo said.

“We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas,” she said. “We have a passionate dedicated population. We have to harness that love, those ideas, that participation.”

Heading into 2020, Hidalgo said a major focus will be improving the quality and accessibility of early childhood education in Harris County. Although she said she was not able to provide specifics on what those programs might looks like, Hidalgo said she spent time in 2019 speaking with experts and plans to start hosting community meetings to gather input early next year.

“Too many parents can’t afford quality childcare and early education for their children,” she said. “That makes those kids lose out on the opportunity to have an advantage that will stay with them for their whole lives. We’ve going to work to expand that access.”

Each year, the State of the County address is hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership. In introductory comments, Partnership CEO Bob Harvey said a core component of GHP’s mission is to build opportunity for everyone in the Greater Houston area, echoing Hidalgo’s own comments about Harris County.

“The county is a central player in taking on these challenges across the region,” he said.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


MOST RECENT

“We understand these are uncertain times and many families are worried how they are going to balance work and follow the vital school curriculum at home,” YMCA President and CEO Stephen Ives said in the release. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Registration open for 11 YMCA locations offering virtual learning centers to help working families this fall

“We understand these are uncertain times and many families are worried how they are going to balance work and follow the vital school curriculum at home,” YMCA President and CEO Stephen Ives said in the release.

Harris County continues to report more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Cy-Fair area. (Community Impact staff)
182 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Cy-Fair on Aug. 3

At least 8,864 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across Cy-Fair.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center ICU capacity returns to Phase 1 levels as COVID-19 hospitalizations decline

The Texas Medical Center has fewer patients in intensive care units as of Aug. 2.

Cy-Fair saw a 109% increase in COVID-19 cases July 1-31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Cy-Fair community sees 109% increase in COVID-19 cases in July

More than 4,400 new COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths were reported in Cy-Fair in July.

Texas sales tax
Report: With boost in e-commerce, Texas sales tax receipts increased 4.3% in July

The loss of extra unemployment support could send numbers back down, however.

The project is now set to wrap up in August. (Graphics by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Completion of Hwy. 249 ramp reversal delayed until August

The project was expected to be complete in mid-July; however, Perez said ramps are now set to reopen in August.

Lone Star College has pushed back classes that meet in-person until Sept. 8. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College delays in-person class meetings to September

In-person and hybrid courses will begin meeting Sept. 8 after initially being scheduled for Aug. 24.

Local Boy Scout troops donate school supplies to Cypress Assistance Ministries. (Courtesy Cypress Assistance Ministries)
Cy-Fair nonprofits accepting, distributing school supplies for families in need

Looking for ways to serve local students this fall? Here is where you can donate school supplies.

The Texas State Teachers Association has asked the state to prohibit in-person teaching until at least Sept. 8. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas State Teachers Association demands TEA prohibit in-person classes until Sept. 8

The statement was released after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier this week said that local districts have the sole authority to close schools due to the ongoing pandemic.

The confirmed number of COVID-19 recoveries in Harris County jumped over the August 1 weekend as the city of Houston began operating under a new record keeping protocol that redefines recoveries to include any cases where it has been "28 days or more since the case was reported, or released from [the] hospital and [is] not deceased." (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Recoveries jump, active cases fall under new case tracking definitions

The confirmed number of COVID-19 recoveries in Harris County jumped over the August 1 weekend as the city of Houston began operating under a new record keeping protocol that redefines recoveries to include any cases where it has been "28 days or more since the case was reported, or released from [the] hospital and [is] not deceased."