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Chron overview of the County Treasurer race

With this story, the Chron has overviewed all of the countywide races. The main issue to discuss, of course, is just what exactly is it that the Treasurer does.

Four years ago, [incumbent Treausrer Orlando] Sanchez’s Democratic opponent advocated eliminating the office, which would require a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment. This year’s Democratic challenger, Billy Briscoe, said that, if elected, he intends to commission an independent audit of the office to determine whether it still is needed. If the answer is no, he said, he will support that conclusion. However, he also wants the audit to look for ways to improve the office, not scrap it.

“I believe the scope and function of this office ought to be reviewed and possibly expanded,” Briscoe said. Whatever the duties assigned to the office, Briscoe said, he plans to go beyond them, driven by the question, “Is there more that we can be doing?”

Briscoe said he envisions using the treasurer’s post as one that would make him part of a pitch team to sell businesses on expanding or relocating to Harris County. Briscoe’s background as a lawyer, lobbyist, businessman and political aide have prepared him, he said, to present the county’s virtues to business groups and Austin policy makers who control the state’s enterprise fund.

“We don’t have a clearly definable county-wide elected person who’s talking about this as a cornerstone of their administration,” Briscoe said.

You know where I stand on this, and you can listen to my interview with Briscoe to hear him discuss it. If there is something to this job, he’s the guy for it.

Sanchez, too, would like to see the office’s duties expanded. For example, he said, his office has the expertise to oversee the county’s investments, debt payments and cash flow.

“All of the duties that are now given to the Office of Financial Services could be, if the (Commissioners) Court wanted to, be brought back to the treasurer’s office,” he said.

Yo, Orlando. You’ve had this job since 2006. Name one concrete step you’ve taken to make this thing you say you want to do happen. Have you even mentioned this idea to Commissioners Court, and if so what was their response? If this is such a good idea – I’m not passing any judgment on that one way or the other – why are we just hearing about it now?

The Houston Politics blog has more, specifically about the issue of immigration, which briefly surfaced in the 2006 GOP primary for Treasurer when Sanchez promised to be a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude against it, then dropped it like a bad habit after he was appointed to the job following Jack Cato’s death. Not that I mind that he dropped the subject – Lord knows, there’s more than enough hot air and hatred on this to last us all a lifetime or two; not following through on that is the single best thing Orlando Sanchez has done as an elected official – it just fits a pattern with Sanchez of all talk and no action. See here for some background.

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