County Judge Assesses State of Harris County
by: Pat Hernandez, February 11, 2010 10:02:00 pm
Before he delivered his third state of the county address, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was introduced to the 600 or so in attendance at the Hilton Americas by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a fellow Rice graduate.
"It may come as a surprise to many of you that despite our different political affiliations, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and I tend to agree more than we disagree. In fact, the two of us have the kind of working relationship that I hope to forge with the rest of county government and with our partners in the surrounding cities."
Emmett says economic challenges affect other major cities but not Harris County and despite the list of initiatives that are essential.
"All of which tie back pretty much to matters of finance, transportation, flood control, criminal justice, healthcare, emergency management. The list is long and from my perspective, puts Harris County among the national leaders in local government. Despite some challenges, I think the present state of the county is quite good and healthy. For me though, the focus really has to be on the future."
Emmett told reporters after the event that attention should be focused on growing social and infrastructure needs that affect Houston and Harris County.
"Are there things that we can do for example in emergency management? There probably needs to be some conversation about law enforcement. We just need to be exploring all those opportunities. But by far, the biggest one going forward I think, is going to be health care, and how we go about getting preventive care rather than crisis care. But we just need to I think, always start from the premise that if we can work together cooperatively, its better than working separately."
HC Commissioner Sylvia Garcia liked what she heard from Judge Emmett.
"We are in better shape than many other local governments; it's absolutely true. I don't think that we're going to really invest in a lot of new major projects. We have to complete what we've got and wait to see how the revenues and our taxes are next year. In my judgment, in my seven years in office as a county commissioner this is gonna be our toughest budget year. Our revenues are flat. Ee're gonna have to tell some people no on a couple of requests and people don't like being told no."
Garcia agrees with Emmett who says the spirit of cooperation goes beyond the city of Houston.