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On succeeding El Franco Lee

Don’t rush anyone.

El Franco Lee

Within hours of longtime Commissioner El Franco Lee’s sudden death Sunday, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett received calls from three people vying for his seat.

Emmett, who alone must appoint a temporary successor, said he will not consider these three or five others who by day’s end expressed their interest.

“There’s such a thing as dignity,” Emmett said on Monday.

[…]

Replacing Lee will be a two-step process which is complicated by where it falls in the election cycle. State law dictates when a sudden vacancy occurs, the county judge must pick a commissioner to complete the term, which in Lee’s case is Jan. 1, 2017.

When the term ends, the commissioner’s job comes up for election. However, at this point it’s too late for candidates to submit their names for the March primary, and there is no Republican running for the seat.

After the primary, sometime in June, Democratic party officials for Precinct 1 will choose a replacement candidate for Lee. The candidate the party chooses will run unopposed in November.

Emmett said he hoped to announce a short-term appointee to the job in three weeks’ time, when he returns from a previously scheduled vacation. Emmett, a centrist Republican, sought input Monday morning from Lee’s staff to find an African-American Democrat for the job equipped to proceed with projects already underway. He said he wanted the individual to be in place in time to participate in the fiscal year budget process.

Lane Lewis, the Democratic Party chair for Harris County, will oversee part two of this process and believes it is in Emmett’s best interest to appoint a caretaker who is ineligible to run or who would choose not to run instead of picking a viable candidate for the November balloting.

“I don’t think he’s interested in trying to be kingmaker; he’s interested in having an honorable, respectable placeholder who can do the job while the process takes place over the next six to eight months,” Lewis said.

Like Emmett, Lewis fielded a handful of phone calls Sunday from individuals inquiring about the open seat on Commissioners Court. Two or three more people approached him Monday at Mayor Sylvester Turner’s inauguration asking how to submit their names to the party’s selection process in June.

“Some were more pushy than others,” he said. Lewis said he agreed with Emmett that these conversations should happen at some point but were premature.

See here for the background. Gotta say, much as I can understand why anyone and everyone would like to have this job, buttonholing Ed Emmett and Lane Lewis (at the Mayor’s inauguration!) like this when everyone is still in shock over the news of Commissioner Lee’s death is just plain tacky. And speaking as a precinct chair in Precinct 1, I agree with Campos about knowing who the eagerest beavers are, so I can take that into account at the CEC meeting when we decide who the nominee will be. I’m already dreading the emails and phone calls I expect I’ll be getting in the months ahead. But as long as we’re discussing this, let me say that one of my priorities for a new Commissioner is someone who will pledge to work with the local party and candidates to support GOTV efforts. With great power comes great responsibility, and all that. KUHF and PDiddie have more.

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5 Comments

  1. novacamp says:

    First, my condolences to the Lee family, Commissioner Precinct 1 family, and everyone who was touched by Commissioner El Franco Lee. Harris County suffered a great loss.

    The Chronicle has the second part of the process wrong. The Commissioner Precinct 1 Chair, not the County Chair, will oversee the process. For the 2014-2016 term, a Commissioner Precinct 1 Executive Committee should have formed made of all Precinct Chairs in the Commissioners Precinct and elected a Chair among the members, per Texas Election Code, Title 10, Subtitle B, Chapter 171, Subchapter D, Sec. 171.071-072. It is this Chair who will oversee the process of electing the position, not Chair Lewis, who is in Commissioner Precinct 4.

  2. […] do have some thoughts on this, but in the spirit of decorum, I’ll demur for now. I do hope that when the time comes for decisions to be made that they […]

  3. Charles X White says:

    Human nature includes an element of curiosity, it is a part of man and woman’s nature to seek answers and ask questions. In the case of the phone calls concerning Commissioner Lee’s replacement:
    When a sitting president dies or is killed in office; immediately a replacement is sworn in, people know what the process is and there are no questions, because people know. Or people that don’t know what the process is ask someone, what happens next? Common knowlege.

    In the case of the commissioners seat, it is seldom that a commissioner dies in office. So there are questions. Not common knowledge!

    In the matter of county judge ed Emmett’s comments, if there is a next time judge emmett or for the next time an event of this nature occurs, my recommendations is to post the process as soon as possible and direct any inquiries to the posted instructions and keep your personal comments to yourself. How do we know that the judge has the best interest of the people at heart, we can’t tell by his past actions. see how a personal commentary sounds, with a policy question. Normally a policy or procedure does not include a personal comment!

    To disqualify someone acting on a natural response or a DNA hardwired response, is unprofessional and not necessary and the judge has added a personal insult to a policy and procedures question. Hundreds of others had the same question, which simply is what’s next or who’s next. When people don’t know they ask questions. Could they have waited, yes – did they wait, no. Could the most righteous judge have waited or had a policy response only, yes – did he, no.

    As noted in a previous post it appears that allot of people needed to know.
    The Chronicle has the second part of the process wrong. The Commissioner Precinct 1 Chair, not the County Chair, will oversee the process. For the 2014-2016 term, a Commissioner Precinct 1 Executive Committee should have formed made of all Precinct Chairs in the Commissioners Precinct and elected a Chair among the members, per Texas Election Code, Title 10, Subtitle B, Chapter 171, Subchapter D, Sec. 171.071-072. It is this Chair who will oversee the process of electing the position, not Chair Lewis, who is in Commissioner Precinct 4.

    RIP my city of Houston lifeguard colleague
    charlie white from way back

  4. […] covered some of this before, but it’s nice to have it in a concise summary like this. I would add the question of which […]