Preview Of Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Race

Following the defeat of incubant Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners in the Republican primary, Harris County voters will now elect a new person for the job. A longtime district courts staffer is now vying for the post against a Houston city councilman.

Democrat Ann Harris Bennett has worked in the media and the legal industry. She's done research and served as an expert witness in land grant cases, and she also worked 15 years in the civil district courts and the district clerk's office.

Bennett says her expertise will help improve efficiency, cutting down on the long lines people often face when they go to the office to register vehicles or pay fees. She says that will take new technology along with increased manpower.

"First of all, you've got to have people at those windows. If they've got 15 windows down there, and you see three people working, that's all you're going to get."

But Bennett's big concern is voter registration. Bennett has also worked as a deputy voter registrar. She charges that partisan practices have denied thousands of Harris County residents the right to vote. Bennett says she'll speed up processing of voter applications, and provide better training for employees to make sure applications are not rejected illegally.

"We've got so many folks in Harris County, and to see that our voter rolls have stayed stagnant for all these years -- it's pitiful."

Bennett has leveled charges against her Republican opponant, Houston District E Councilman Mike Sullivan, claiming he won't do anything to fight voter suppression. It's a charge Sullivan denies.

"Whatever the law says is what I will do. Therefore I will register legal voters, and I will not register illegal voters."

Sullivan is a native Houstonian and small business owner. He's also served on the Humble ISD Board of Trustees. 

Sullivan says he wants to cut down on long lines at the tax office by setting up electronic kiosks. Another priority is combating fraud in vehicle registration. He also says he'll lobby for caps on property taxes.

"This is coming straight from the voters. The voters have told me loud and clear that they want an advocate who will advocate for property caps, for lower taxes, less onerous requirements for conducting their businesses."   

Harris County voters will choose a new tax-assesor collector on Tuesday.

 

For election coverage, visit kuhf.org/election2012.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...