Essential things to know about the Houston area judge

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Although no criminal charges have been filed regarding the controversial $11 million contract that left Hidalgo on the defensive, Google shows that many people around Houston are still asking about Hidalgo and the raid. Here’s what we know.

What does Lina Hidalgo do, and is she a real judge?

Hidalgo is Harris County’s chief executive — an elected position titled “county judge” even though he has no role in settling cases or enforcing the law. The history of the name dates back to the Republic of Texas, where the position was originally known as “Chief Justice” and was appointed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas, according to the Texas Historical Association. State of Texas.

As a county judge, Hidalgo has influence over the county budget for funding law enforcement and county courts. She is also responsible for county emergencies.

Hidalgo, who was elected in 2018 in a countywide vote, serves alongside four elected county commissioners in their respective constituencies. She is seeking a second term this fall as a Democratic candidate.

Why were Hidalgo’s offices raided?

On March 11, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers, the state’s law enforcement agency, executed search warrants at county administrative buildings, including the Center Building. -town of Preston Street which houses the main office of Hidalgo, reported Dylan McGuinness.

The raid, in which agencies seized phones and computers on a warrant signed by a judge, was part of an investigation into a controversial $11 million contract for vaccine outreach that was canceled in September, after accusations that Hidalgo’s office referred him to a political consultant. with ties to local Democrats. In November, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas regarding the contract.

The search warrant affidavits, released on March 18, revealed that the Texas Rangers began investigating a possible misuse of information, providing false statements and falsifications, Nicole Hensley reported.

According to the affidavits, the investigation is focused on several county employees under Hidalgo’s office — including chief of staff Alex Triantaphyllis, policy director Wallis Nader and former senior adviser Aaron Dunn — for exchanging text messages with Elevate Strategies founder Felicity Pereyra months before the county was released. a request for proposals for the Elevate vaccine outreach contract was ultimately won, Hensley reported.

Pereyra previously worked on Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s 2015 Houston mayoral campaign and helped Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign. Elevate’s proposal was chosen from a bid of 7 $.5 million from UT Health by a 5-member review panel that included Triantaphyllis and two other staff from the Hidalgo office.

No criminal charges have been filed in relation to the contract. During a break at a commissioners’ court meeting in March, Dug Begley reported that Hidalgo had declined to address the ongoing criminal investigation in detail, saying the warrants only provided one side of the story. ‘story.

“What I can say is that I followed the law,” Hidalgo told reporters on March 22.

Hidalgo’s attorney, Eric Gerard, said in a statement that the affidavits contained a “misleading storyline” and were “the latest act of political theater in a politically motivated investigation.” Lawyers for Hidalgo and his aides say one of the documents was sent in error and another was sent as part of an unrelated project.

On April 7, another search warrant emerged showing that the Texas Rangers ordered Google to seize the records of seven people, including Hidalgo herself.

Is Hidalgo popular?

Hidalgo, who is seeking a second term as county judge, won the support of just over 75% of Democratic voters in the Texas primary election on March 1.

However, overall turnout in the primary, the oldest in the country, has been low. Just under 160,000 Democrats cast ballots, representing 6.4% of Harris County’s 2.5 million registered voters, compared with 183,507 Republican primary voters, or about 7% of the electorate.

Where did Hidalgo grow up?

Hidalgo was born in Colombia in 1991. After spending her childhood in Colombia, Mexico and Peru, she emigrated to the United States in 2005.

Hidalgo attended Seven Lakes High School in Katy, where she graduated in 2009.

Where did Hidalgo go to college?

Hidalgo received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University in 2013. Two years later, she enrolled in a joint law program at New York University and a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University.

Why did Hidalgo run for county judge?

Hidalgo previously said she decided to run for local office after Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election. She put her graduate studies on hold to return to Texas in the summer of 2017, hoping to identify an office to seek.

Hidalgo eventually showed up against longtime incumbent Ed Emmett, with a platform focused on flood control, criminal justice reform and increased accountability. She defeated Emmett by less than 18,000 votes, becoming the first-ever woman and Latina in the county to be elected to that office.

Do you need a law degree to be a county judge in Texas?

County judges do not need to have a law degree or be a practicing attorney, according to Texas law.

Instead, an applicant must be a US citizen age 18 or older who has lived in Texas for 12 consecutive months and in the county for 6 consecutive months. They must also be registered to vote in the county.

How to contact Hidalgo?

According to the Harris County website, residents can contact the Hidalgo office with general feedback by email at [email protected] or by phone at (713) 274-7000.

Reporting by Zach Despart, Nicole Hensley, Dug Begley and Olivia Tallet contributed to this report.

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