As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, Trautman resigned due to personal health concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trautman, a Democrat, was first elected to the office in November 2018. The county clerk's responsibilities include reporting and maintaining court records, running the county and state elections and providing a variety of other services, ranging from marriage licenses to birth and death certificates.
"I commend Dr. Trautman for the work that she did and for her commitment to taking care of her health," Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said during the meeting. "It's important to her family and all of us, and at the end of the day, all of us enjoy public service, but family does matter, and I respect her decision."
In a split 3-2 vote, with Precincts 3 and 4 Commissioners Steve Radack and Jack Cagle dissenting, the commissioners appointed Hollins to serve as interim county clerk beginning June 1. Hollins, a Democrat, is a Houston-based personal injury lawyer with a background in both the public and private sector.
"[Hollins] is incredibly qualified, and I am confident he will do an excellent job leading the county's elections division, in addition to his other assigned duties," Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said in a statement. "Chris has an impeccable resume—from his Morehouse, Harvard and Yale education to his experience as an attorney and high-level management consultation at McKinsey, Chris understands how to manage complex systems and is uniquely suited to handle his new responsibilities."
Cagle said he was unable to vote in support of Hollins' appointment due to his affiliation with the Texas Democratic Party.
"From his resume, [Hollins] has been and currently is the Texas Democratic Party Finance Chair, and so that's going to be a difficult sell for me, to have someone that is that closely involved in the political process, especially in terms of raising funds, for me to be able to support on a process such as this, especially without any personal knowledge or experience with regard to his skill set in this actual job," Cagle said. "Nothing against this gentleman, ... but I won't be able to support him."
Hollins, who said he has no intentions of running for the office, will serve as interim county clerk throughout the remainder of 2020 until a new county clerk is elected in November.
"I'm committing to [Hollins] with the understanding that he will bring his skill set to running the best election that we can possibly do for the sake of our county and generally the democratic rights of all the residents and not focusing on advancing personal political ambitions," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting.
In a post on his Facebook page, Hollins expressed his gratitude for the appointment. Hollins will be tasked with administering the July 14 runoff elections and the November general elections.
"I am honored to serve as the next Harris County clerk and provide vital services to the residents of Harris County during this challenging time," Hollins said in a statement. "This November, our office will administer the most consequential election of our lifetime amid a global health pandemic. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that Harris County residents can exercise that right safely, conveniently and with the peace of mind that their vote will be counted."
Trautman likewise expressed her approval of Hollins' appointment in a May 20 news release.
"I would like to congratulation Chris Hollins on his appointment as interim Harris County clerk and extend my best wishes to him in his upcoming administration," Trautman said in a statement. "I spoke to him this morning and look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition to the office."