Lina Hidalgo knows that education is key to building a competitive economy and robust workforce. As County Judge, Lina will lead on early childhood education, because the returns on investment are unequivocal and because our future competitiveness depends on it. In order to bridge the early education gap in Harris County, Lina proposes:
-Equalizing access to early childhood education in Harris County by following the voters' wishes to implement early education programs.
-Leading the charge as Texas' largest county in urging the state to restore its sharply declining financial commitment to education.
-Addressing disciplinary disparities among children, which set many up for a lifetime of under performance.
Read more about Lina's early childhood education plans in her op-ed on the topic published in the Harvard Kennedy School Review.
Disaster Preparedness and Flood Elimination
We are learning—at too great a cost—that not enough was done to address flooding over the past decade, and that tinkering with the status quo is irresponsible. We need a County Judge that is overseeing growth in our county with the interests of the community in mind. After decades of warnings, there is no excuse for development that failed to ensure communities were protected from the next flooding event.
As extreme weather events become more common, we can’t be afraid to ask hard questions. We must also consider the climate. The weather will continue to change and, until we get a grip on that, we won’t be prepared.
Lina will fight for change on design standards, floodplain management, and drainage issues. She will not shy away from bold innovation. From her time at Stanford and Harvard, both as a student and researcher, Lina has learned to build coalitions of smart, capable people. She knows to listen to experts before the storm, not just after. She will bring the best minds together with the community to stop flooding in Harris County.
On disaster preparedness more broadly, Lina will emphasize community-centered, long-term risk reduction. She will spearhead an effort to transparently assess and address systemic vulnerabilities, both on flooding and emergency management, working with business and community leaders toward a community-centered resilience plan.
Most importantly, Lina will make sure the community is part of the discussion as we rebuild after Harvey and decide where funds coming in from out of town will go. Any bond proposal must be presented only after robust community input and implemented with safeguards to ensure community oversight.
It took Hurricane Ike, the Memorial Day Flood, the Tax Day Flood, and Hurricane Harvey, for the gears to start turning on a bond election and a substantial local focus on flood control. Lina believes we must work together to prevent crises, instead of merely responding to them and she will be proactive in addressing our community's challenges.
We must rapidly address the causes and impacts climate change at the County level. As we have seen over the past ten years, storms are only getting worse. We are a coastal county, and sea levels are rising. We have a responsibility to use all the best science to protect our community and our industry. As the third largest county in the nation, we must also lead. We have the opportunity of the century to become leaders in resilience. Read Lina's full white paper on climate change and her op-ed on the topic published by the Houston Chronicle.
Making Sure Every Family Has a Fair Shot
Lina Hidalgo’s own experiences have shown her disadvantage comes in many interconnected challenges. From her work with the Texas Civil Rights Project and as a medical interpreter, Lina saw the way a lack of mental health infrastructure derails people’s lives and lands them in the criminal justice system. Lina would be a completely different person had various things not conspired together: A safe neighborhood, her parent’s ability to have a good job, and an opportunity to earn scholarships that allowed her to go to school. She wants other families to have a fair shot, like she did.
As Harris County Judge, Lina Hidalgo will work to ensure hard-working folks have a fair shot.
She will work to tackle our infrastructure challenges, prioritizing projects in neighborhoods where they are most needed. She will work to build a public transportation system that puts us in line with world-class communities around the globe. She will work to develop partnerships that promote growth in areas that have been forgotten, but that could thrive with adequate access and services. She will advocate for fair wages and against wage theft. She will promote standards so that workers working with County contractors are safe and so that we are training a workforce for the future.
Making sure our families have a fair shot also means standing up for our community, as the largest County in Texas.
Lina will fight for the LGBT community in Harris County. Lina will make sure our public hospitals are sensitive to the needs of the LGBT community. She will push for comprehensive nondiscrimination policies in county employee handbooks that address gender and sexual orientation harassment and will fight for LGBT+ individuals to have adequate access to public housing.
She will join leaders throughout our County and State who have said that SB4, the "show-me-your-papers" legislation, undermines local government and ultimately makes us all less safe. She will stand up for our values as a nation by continuing to advocate against "baby jails" and the detention center for children torn away from their parents that was proposed in Harris County.
Lina will speak up for all our communities when it counts, and make sure our County takes clear and visible positions on state and national legislation that affects our communities. Most importantly, she will open the doors of county government so that our communities have a direct line to county government and are consulted about needs and included in the solution.
Fixing Our Criminal Justice System
Lina Hidalgo knows the value of growing up in a safe place. Since she immigrated to the United States, she has had the fortune of living in neighborhoods where crime was not a daily presence. But she knows too many people live in neighborhoods where they feel just as unsafe as her family felt in Colombia during the drug war.
Given the huge investment the County makes on criminal justice, one of Lina’s priorities will be to focus on investing funds more effectively. She will promote options that are smart on crime and reduce recidivism while promoting reintegration and saving us money. DA Kim Ogg, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and Commissioner Rodney Ellis have already started bringing profound positive change to criminal justice in Harris County. In the short time they have been in their positions, they have shown how much a proactive leader can achieve when they start working on an issue rather than simply talking about it. There is still a long way to go and we need another person in County leadership to support their work. Our Juvenile Detention center, for one, is at 150% capacity and reveals blatant racial and ethnic disparities. We have spent over $6 million fighting a federal court order to reform our bail system instead of simply implementing cost-saving and safety-promoting reform.
As a criminal justice researcher at Harvard, Lina studied the effects of incarceration on children. As Harris County Judge, she will work to promote the smartest and most effective practices for holding kids accountable while promoting their growth and reintegration. Through her criminal justice work, she has seen the importance of strong indigent representation. She will promote a data-driven system to ensure everyone before the court has access to quality representation. Lina stands against continuing to fund the County’s defense of discriminatory bail practices through a lawsuit that is wasting millions of County dollars. It is a disservice to our children and communities, who would benefit from that money being reinvested.
Lina believes every person who has died or suffered due to a broken criminal justice system over the last ten years is one too many and that every dollar that has been spent perpetuating an inefficient system has been a disservice to taxpayers. She will fight for smart reforms as soon as she gets into office.
As the country is still reeling from the Parkland shooting and now the tragedy in our neighboring city of Santa Fe we cannot afford to assume that the gun issue isn’t a local issue because lives are at stake. As the third largest county in the nation we can and must lead the charge for gun safety in both Texas and the rest of the country. Lina proposes:
-Leveraging our influence as Texas’ largest county to demand there are background checks performed at every gun show in county arenas and convention centers.
-Ensuring active shooter protocol is clear to law enforcement and working with partners at the County to ensure all constables and sheriffs deputies undergo active shooter training.
-Instituting a gun buyback program, because we know that guns no longer being used should not be left vulnerable to theft and accidental shootings.
Most importantly, we must come together. The students of Parkland have shown the power of community and how raising a voice can enact national change. Read Lina's full white paper on gun safety.
Building a Government that is Transparent and Accountable
Lina Hidalgo worked throughout Southeast Asia to support journalists and promote transparency because she knows that information is power. For one, information helps us keep government accountable. There are also brilliant people in our County who could help us come up with better ideas but cannot easily access information about what County government is doing.
As Harris County Judge, Lina Hidalgo will work to build a Commissioners Court that is more in touch with the community.
She will support a data-driven approach to innovation. She will push for information to be readily available on County programs, their progress and targets, and the results and outcomes to show for an investment. The same goes for procurement projects. Making sure all data is easily accessible will allow citizens to hold government accountable and will allow partners to help us find innovative solutions to local challenges.
She will work to build communication and connections with the community, so that all understand the role of the County Commissioners Court and have easy access at key decision points. She will prioritize community meetings on issues before the Commissioners Court to ensure people have a true say in the way their money is spent. More broadly, Lina will work to coordinate and support partnerships, including with the breadth of community-based efforts taking place throughout our County.
On criminal justice, Lina will push for the collection of data on racial discrepancies throughout the criminal justice system from start to finish.