District Clerk: The duties of this office include summoning jurors for the district and county criminal courts, maintaining court records, preparing daily court dockets and receiving child support payments.
The choice for voters in this contest is easy. Democratic incumbent Loren Jackson has done an excellent job upgrading the electronic capabilities of the office and making it more efficient and user-friendly. On his first day in office, Jackson created an express window lawyers had long sought so they could quickly file papers and return to the courts.
He has also expanded the online availability of court documents, and if the Texas Supreme Court approves, Jackson plans to open a free e-filing portal allowing lawsuits to be filed electronically. (He) says it will save litigants filing fees, cut down on printing, processing and storage costs, and reduce the number of trips lawyers must make to the courthouse.
Jackson's efforts have won him overwhelming support in the legal community. On the Houston Bar Association Preference Poll, members chose Jackson over his opponent by 1,270 to 200. Voters should follow their lead.
County Clerk: In this contest to replace retiring incumbent Beverly Kaufman, the Chronicle endorses Ann Harris Bennett, a veteran of more than 14 years' service as a district court coordinator.
The duties of the county clerk include administering county, state and Houston municipal elections as well as maintaining records for county courts and Commissioners Court. The office also issues marriage certificates and records deeds, birth and death certificates and assumed names, wills and probate documents.
Bennett opposes turning over the election functions of the office to an appointed election administrator as advocated by some county officials. She supports eventually converting to voting machines that provide a paper record that can be used for recounts. Bennett also promises to work closely with District Clerk Loren Jackson to upgrade the technology and efficiency of the clerk's office.
County Tax Assessor-Collector: In this contest to fill the unexpired term of Republican Paul Bettencourt, who resigned shortly after his election in 2008, the Chronicle endorses the Democrat who narrowly lost to him, Diane Trautman. The incumbent appointed by Commissioners Court, Leo Vasquez, lost to a challenger in the GOP primary.
The duties of this office include collecting more than $5 billion in taxes annually for 66 taxing entities, selling license plates and vehicle titles, and maintaining county voter rolls.
A former bank lending and trust manager, Trautman now teaches ethics and management to graduate students at Stephen F. Austin University. She pledges to restore non-partisan leadership to a service position too often used in the past to promote the political views of the occupant.
There's really no comparison between these three and their GOP counterparts. They comprise the very worst of extremist, TeaBagging ideology and would only exacerbate lingering problems.