Harris County taps Isabel Longoria as final candidate for first-ever elections administrator

Isabel Longoria
Isabel Longoria is the final candidate for Harris County's first-ever elections administrator. (Courtesy Isabel Longoria)

Isabel Longoria is the final candidate for Harris County's first-ever elections administrator. (Courtesy Isabel Longoria)

Amid an election with historic voter turnout, the Harris County Elections Commission made strides toward changing the way future races will be organized.

The commission voted Oct. 30 to tap Isabel Longoria as the final candidate for the county’s new elections administrator position. Longoria is a longtime community organizer and currently serves as special adviser on voting rights to County Clerk Chris Hollins.

“Isabel is someone who I trust deeply, as a matter of someone who is competent and a proven leader in a large organization that is deeply complicated and further complicated in Harris county and the state of Texas,” Hollins said, referring to recent voter-access lawsuits between state and local officials. “We need someone who has her version and her commitment to protect the right to vote in the county, increase voter access and someone who is a problem-solver by nature.”

The position will overtake election-related duties from the county clerk and the tax-assessor collector, currently Ann Harris-Bennet. The new elections administrator will take office after the November general election. Currently, the clerk is responsible for setting polling locations and counting ballots, while the tax-assessor collector is responsible for voter registration.

Longoria has a history of civic involvement in Houston serving on the Houston Planning Commission and on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Commission and working with the League of Women Voters and AARP.

She also ran to unseat incumbent District H City Council Member Karla Cisneros and was defeated by a fewer than 20-vote margin in the December 2019 run-off election. The seat represents parts of the Heights, First Ward, Northside and Denver Harbor neighborhoods of Houston.

Critics of the new office have expressed concern it takes election responsibilities away from elected officials—the clerk and tax-assessor—and places them in the hands of an appointed official.

To assuage those concerns, the Elections Commission also approved a plan to begin drafting the vision for the citizen's advisory committee that would serve as a check on the election administrator’s office.

“The citizens advisory committee must be a legitimate committee established in good faith with a clearly-defined and substantive role in community involvement, not one that is nearly [performative],” said Veronica Garcia of Houston in Action, a civic engagement organization.

Longoria’s appointment is not yet official, but the commission authorized contract and salary negotiations to begin. Harris County Commissioners Court will vote on the salary when the negotiations are complete.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


Council Member Robert Gallegos, Arturo Michel, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Ron Lewis.
Mayor announces changes among Houston’s top-level staff

Several key staff are retiring or leaving for new positions.

Houston ISD reported that 42% of its students failed at least one class in the first six-week grading period for 2020-21, which was held exclusively online. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston ISD acknowledges role of COVID-19 virtual instruction in student performance drop

"The most notable difference between last year and this year is the virtual education component implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the district said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
First allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations expected to arrive in Texas in mid-December

About 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been allotted to the state of Texas and will arrive the week of Dec. 14.

The East Montgomery County Industrial Park off Gene Campbell Road will welcome the Lowe's Distribution Center in July. (Courtesy East Montgomery County Improvement District)
Lowe's to bring 200 jobs to Montgomery County and more Houston-area news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Harris County has launched a tool to allow homeowners to identify appraisal activity in their neighborhood. (Courtesy Pexels)
Harris County Appraisal District launches new 'Appraiser Field Operations Map' tool

Harris County has launched a tool to allow homeowners to identify appraisal activity in their neighborhood.

Harmonium historic district
Proposed historic district Harmonium is a work of art—literally

The homes are owned by Houston-based artist Salle Werner Vaughn, who has turned the collection of early 20th century properties into an art installation called “Harmonium.”

The letter came a week after Longoria was virtually sworn into the office by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Nov. 18. (Screenshot via Zoom)
Harris County scrambles to make creation of Elections Administrator Office lawful after Attorney General's letter identifies deficiencies

Harris County is working to make right the appointment of Isabel Longoria as the county's first-ever elections administrator after County Attorney Vince Ryan received a letter Nov. 25 from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stating that the county did not follow the proper appointment process.

Houston residents can apply for $1,200 in direct cash assistance

Applications will be evaluated based on need rather than a first-come, first-served basis.

Gwen Sims first joined Harris County Public Health in 1997. (Courtesy Harris County Public Health)
Deputy Director Gwen Sims appointed interim executive director of Harris County Public Health

Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously appointed Gwen Sims to serve as the interim executive director of Harris County Public Health in anticipation of Executive Director Umair Shah's departure Dec. 18.

1611 South Blvd., Houston: This fully restored 1925 home features designer touches throughout, as well as a guest quarters with a full-size kitchen. 6 beds, 4.5 baths / 6,374 square feet. Sold for $4,418,001-$5,081,000 on Nov. 30. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Heights-River Oaks-Montrose real estate: See some of the homes sold in November

Among the properties that sold are a 100-year-old First Ward bungalow with recent renovations, a 1925 restoration and a 2011 custom home in the Heights.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has launched a campaign to address declining college enrollment numbers across the state since the pandemic started. (Courtesy Pexels)
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board launches campaign to boost college enrollment

The decline in college enrollment across the state of Texas has prompted several agencies to partner up and create online resources for students and counselors.