Image: Harris County Judge Republican Nominee Alexandra Mealer
The Golden Hammer Editorial Board
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, endorses Alexandra Mealer for Harris County Judge. (If you’re wondering why we’re endorsing for Harris County Judge, when we’re suburban Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, please read to the end of this article.)
Incumbent Harris County Judge Lina Hildalgo has been a dismal failure, both as a leader and as a policymaker.
Harris County’s violent crime rate has soared during the last three years. Public safety has become the number one issue for Harris County voters and residents. Regardless of the urgent need to support the law enforcement community in Harris County, Hidalgo has done nothing but support those people who are at the front line of the war on crime. Hidalgo has failed to provide more than $20 million in urgent budget requests which the Harris County Sheriff and Constables have made in each of the last two year’s budget cycles.
The purpose of a County government, more than anything else, is to provide public safety through Sheriffs and Constables. Nevertheless, Hidalgo has cut those departmental budgets and turned away from their requests more than almost any other County government department.
The most effective way to fight crime is through law enforcement visibility and incapacitation of convicted criminals through incarceration. Hidalgo has presided over a terrible backlog in the disposition of criminal cases in Harris County. Certainly, that’s not all her fault, as the pandemic and judges without strong work ethics have contributed their share of the problems. Hildalgo has done nothing to help and she could have helped in a big way, if she had fought to use $20 million in federal COVID funds to pay for overtime employees to assist in moving the criminal court backlog.
The blame for the Harris County Commissioners Court’s current budget mess, where the supposed County “leaders” cannot muster a quorum of four to approve the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget for a fiscal year which began on October 1, 2022. A County Judge should act as a leader of the Commissioners Court. Instead, Hidalgo has engaged in hyper-partisanship to ensure the two elected Republican County Commissioners would not attend. Commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey are fighting to lower the burden on the taxpayers, while Hidalgo wants to increase “revenue,” a euphemism for higher and higher taxes.
Hidalgo’s handling of the pandemic reflected fear and political expediency. After Montgomery County, Harris County suffered one of the worst government shutdowns almost entirely at the hands of Hidalgo. Her actions were nothing short of terrible.
Mealer comes with superb qualifications to give Harris County voters a military veterans, parent of two children, West Point graduate, Army Captain, and graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. She offers voters a clear choice of a sober leader who will focus on the important issues facing Harris County over an ideologue, Hidalgo, whose staff choices and political appointments (such as Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria who presided over the disastrous primary election which mired the County government in lawsuits) have served to embarrass.
And why does a Montgomery County newspaper care about the Harris County Judge? For two major reasons. First, Harris County’s violent crime wave has begun to spill over into neighboring counties, such as Montgomery County. Second, Montgomery County suffers from its own very weak County Judge, who seems to follow the lead of Hidalgo, even when she makes poor and panicked decisions, such as the March, 2020, COVID shutdown, where the Montgomery County Judge followed Hidalgo but imposed an even more stringent shutdown, which included an illegal curfew and an order shutting down churches as well as businesses.