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Evaluating Eversole

As we prepare to say good-bye and good riddance to Jerry Eversole, the Chron takes a look at what he has achieved in office and what his legacy might be.

After more than 20 years as a Harris County commissioner, Jerry Eversole is expected to leave office a felon, having announced his resignation last week as part of a plea deal that likely will see him plead guilty to lying to FBI agents four years ago.

In political circles, that may be Eversole’s legacy: forced from office by a corruption probe, accused – though not convicted – of funneling contracts to a friend’s companies in exchange for more than $100,000 in cash and gifts.

Some may see him as a caricature: A local politician accused of cronyism, with a penchant for charity golf tournaments, who so resembled Clint Eastwood he had to turn away autograph-seekers.

Many of Eversole’s constituents in north Harris County will not remember him that way, however.

They point to his beloved Spring Creek Greenway, a developing 12,000-acre park that, when completed, will run along 33 miles of creek from The Woodlands to Humble.

Eversole proudly said the land still looks as it did when the Akokisa Indians camped there.

“I regret that I won’t see it any further,” Eversole said. “It’s a tremendous project.”

In the end, Eversole’s legacy may be neither disgraced politician nor saintly conservationist. Those who know him describe him as an endearing but admittedly imperfect, old-fashioned, road-and-bridge commissioner.

If Jerry Eversole wants to be remembered as something other than a politician who was forced out of office by pleading guilty to a felony, then there needs to be something extraordinary in his record to balance that out. It’s nice that his employees thought he was a good boss who boosted morale, and it’s nice that his constituents felt like they could talk to him when they needed to, but those are hardly remarkable achievements. The construction of that park is certainly laudable, but building parks is something County Commissioners do. Unless there’s some evidence to suggest that Jerry Eversole and no one else could have gotten that done over the past 20 years, it doesn’t rise to that standard, either. There may be more to the Jerry Eversole story than what’s in this article, but I don’t see anything to distract from the fact that he’s about to become an ex-official because he got caught taking advantage of his position for his own personal gain.

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