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Harris County Appoints New Representatives to Houston-Galveston Area Council Board After Hidalgo Missed Dozens of Meetings

Lina Hidalgo: 8 things to know about the Harris County judge

In a recent development, Harris County officials have made key appointments to the board of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). This decision comes following the end of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s term on the council, amidst reports of her absence from numerous meetings.

A report released by the Houston Landing on Monday highlighted Hidalgo’s absence from over 50 consecutive meetings of H-GAC over the past four and a half years. However, Hidalgo contested this claim, stating that she had personally filed for reappointments.

Following a closed executive session, the commissioner’s court announced the appointment of Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones and Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia as the designated members for the county. Additionally, Precinct Commissioner 3 Tom Ramsey and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis were appointed as alternates. Notably, both Hidalgo and Ellis were facing term limits on the board.

H-GAC, which oversees funds for various projects including workforce development, transportation, and flooding across 13 counties in Texas, consists of 37 representatives managing 100 local governments. Despite Houston and Harris County representing a significant portion of the population, their combined voting power on the council stands at approximately 11 percent.

Responding to criticisms regarding her absence, Hidalgo’s spokesperson clarified that the appointments were initiated by Hidalgo’s office and aimed at advocating for greater representation for Harris County. Despite not being present at the commissioner’s meeting due to a pre-planned vacation, Hidalgo emphasized her commitment to prioritizing the county’s interests.

Addressing concerns over the scheduling conflicts that may have contributed to her absences, Hidalgo’s office cited her role as the director of emergency management during various crises including natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The process of appointing representatives to the H-GAC board typically involves nominations originating from the County Judge’s Office. However, discussions are ongoing to standardize appointment procedures for key boards and commissions.

In recent months, there has been a debate within the council regarding population-based representation, with Harris County voters approving Proposition B in November to reform the voting structure. However, negotiations to implement these changes have faced delays.

Despite the ongoing discussions, appointments to the H-GAC board remain subject to change, with reasons ranging from recent elections to scheduling conflicts. According to Rick Guerrero, H-GAC’s Chief Outreach and Government Affairs Officer, such changes are not uncommon.

As regional leaders continue to navigate these complexities, the focus remains on ensuring effective representation and collaboration within the Houston-Galveston Area Council.