The Harris County ballot is the second longest ballot in the country, and this election season, voters will have a slate of African-American candidates to choose from, and some offices that greatly impact the Black community in particular.
“Elections determine how our tax dollars are going to be spent, education, healthcare, peoples needs, etc,” said Dr. Gerald Horne with the University of Houston. “So it is those elections that will determine whether that money will be used as another giveaway to billionaires, or spent on military, or other projects. People need to pay attention to elections.”
Two of the races garnering a lot of attention are Harris County District Attorney and Harris County Sherriff.
The Harris County Jail houses nearly 10,000 inmates at any given time. And that’s one of the problems residents want to see addressed. Tackling overcrowding is high on Ed Gonzalez’s list. The former Houston police officer and city council member is challenging incumbent Sheriff Ron Hickman in the race for Sherriff.
In the race for District Attorney, Defense attorney Kim Ogg (Democrat) is in a contentious race against incumbent Devon Anderson (Republican). Considering the number of African-Americans who go through the Harris County court system, this is definitely a race to watch.
In the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s race, Ann Harris Bennett is hoping to be the first African-American woman to hold the position. She’s running against incumbent Mike Sullivan.
Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Allen Rosen is facing Republican challenger, Joe Danna. Rosen, whose area covers a large part of the African American community is hoping to hold on to his office.
It’s not just candidates, voters will decide on. Houston voters have to decide a major question on school funding: How to send more than $150 million in local property taxes back to the state.
As written, Proposition One asks voters to allow HISD to send money to Austin, per state law, according to what’s called state recapture. That money, in turn, is supposed to be used to help school districts that don’t rake don’t rake in top dollars from property taxes, sort of like a Robin Hood tax that works to keep the educational playing field even.
HISD is now considered a property tax rich District; so, it is required to pay $162 million in local property tax money next year to the recapture pot.
A “yes” vote on HISD Proposition 1 means the district will basically write a check to the state. If voters say “no,” the Texas Education Commissioner will take valuable commercial property away from HISD. He’ll give it to another district, like Aldine or Alief. They get to tax it, probably at a higher rate. Those hoping for a ‘no’ vote, hope that it will force legislatures to pass a law on school funding.
Perhaps the biggest news comes on the judicial front. An unprecedented number of African-American local judges are seeking positions.
What other African-Americans are on the ballot?