Sunday, January 03, 2016

Only Democrat on Harris Co. Commissioners Court passes away

RIP El Franco Lee.  He was on the ballot for re-election this year, without a primary challenger.

Harris County Precinct One Commissioner El Franco Lee has died. The family confirmed that Commissioner Lee suffered a heart attack and died at 10:01am Sunday.

Lee (was) a native Houstonian, where he began his political career in 1979 when he was elected Texas State Representative for District 142. In 1985, he was elected and sworn in as the first African-American Harris Co. Commissioner, where he has been serving his seventh term.

Not sure about the process, but the law may allow the Democratic precinct chairs to vote a replacement candidate to their primary ballot to replace him.  Updates here as warranted.

"El Franco was a beloved public servant who never sought the limelight, preferring a low key approach that put the needs of his constituents above self-promotion," Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said, noting that Lee beat him in the 1984 race for county commissioner. "His passion was helping seniors and improving quality of life for underserved youth and young adults in the inner city. His unmatched programs for thousands of seniors include everything from health and fitness initiatives to arts and crafts and music tutorials to holiday celebrations and other special events."

Update II: Lee's name will remain on the ballot through the March primary and the general election in November.  While County Judge Ed Emmett, a Republican, will appoint a placeholder at some point (probably a Republican to avoid the screeching) to serve the remainder of Lee's term, the Democratic precinct chairs in Lee's Precinct One will elect his replacement later this year, and that person will take office no later than next January (because Lee had no Republican challenger in the general, either).  Among the rumored names for the post today are state Senator Rodney Ellis -- which would open a coveted legislative seat and initiate another scrum -- and former councilman CO Bradford, with a few others, such as Houston city councilman Jerry Davis, also mentioned.

State representative Borris Miles is also in the mix; he allegedly wants the Texas Senate seat Ellis may be vacating.


joseph m said...

What about write in candidates?

PDiddie said...

I'm sure there are some election law attorneys fit to answer this question specifically, joseph. My understanding of the election code is that write-in candidates must be certified; i.e., declare themselves a candidate, completing the forms, fees, and meeting the deadlines for such; and collect signatures of registered voters that then must be verified. You may read the TXSoS guidelines here.

It's noteworthy here to point out that in Texas, Bernie Sanders cannot run as a write-in candidate for president if he also files and runs in the primary (which he has). Another way of saying that is that any write-ins for Sanders in November -- assuming he is not the nominee -- will NOT be counted.

David Collins said...

"While County Judge Ed Emmett, a Republican, will appoint a placeholder at some point (probably a Republican to avoid the screeching) to serve the remainder of Lee's term..."

I could be wrong, but I give Judge Emmett a little more credit for courage than that. He's partisan, but he's not hyper-partisan, and I don't think the wingnuts will influence him. He's been able to operate as a moderate for so long mostly because the media tends not to pay much attention to county government--and, given that fact, you'd think the 4-1 Republican majority on the Commission could run the table with little public outcry, but they haven't.

Gadfly said...

Yeah, I'm sure normal Texas write-in procedures apply here.

And, would Ellis be getting that tired of the state senate? Interesting.

PDiddie said...

Fair point, David, and since Emmett is not running in 2018 he might just choose to flip off the Woodfill-ites and name someone who isn't as dogmatic as Radack, Cagle, and Morman.

joseph m said...

Emmett isn't running in 2018?

The green party must have a candidate on the ballot for County Judge.

Having compared cities and counties nationwide after running for city council, city of houston and harris county could do much better.

Paid FMLA for city and county employees
Ban the Box ordinance(criminal justice reform)
5 day paid sick leave ordinance for full time employees in the private sector

Gadfly said...

The header is another reason .... another reason Houston/Harris County isn't Dallas/Dallas County. Dems have had a majority of the Commissioners Court there for almost a decade.

Jill Moffitt said...

Rumor has it that they will appoint a Dem they can work with in the hopes that HCDP will support that appointment in a special election in May.

David Collins said...

In response to Joe Mc above:

Depending on how things go this year, I would be delighted to run for County Judge again in 2018. I also have an urge to run for Ted Cruz's seat (the same spot I tried for in 2012).

The Green Party has a bit of a hurdle to overcome this year, with Democrats on the ballot for all the statewide positions: 1 Railroad Commission seat, 3 Supreme Court positions, and 3 Court of Criminal Appeals positions. We'll need one of our candidates to get 5% of the vote just to guarantee a Green ballot line in 2018. When the Democrats have shown up for a race, the best we've done is 2%. This is why it's so important to make Sanders supporters and other progressives aware that the Greens will be there in November 2016 if Sanders isn't.