First full-time Hispanic judge hits new milestone

July 1, 2011 4:37:47 PM PDT
A judge who has been in office for decades is now reaching a special milestone. He's now the longest serving elected official in Harris County. In 1973, Judge Armando Rodriguez won his first election, and you could say he's been on a roll ever since. He is now in a league all on his own within Harris County.

A black and white photos depicts a historic career in its genesis -- a young Rodriguez sworn in by then-Mayor Louie Welch as the first full-time Hispanic judge in Houston. He remembers asking his mentor, about whether he should even accept.

"He got all excited, he said take it, take it. We've been wanting a Hispanic as a full-time judge," Rodriguez said.

And trail blazing seemed to be his style.

A couple of years later Judge Rodriguez was again, given a new appointment, this time with Harris County, as the first Hispanic judge. He has now won 10 straight elections.

"This is the first swearing in as an elected official," he said as he showed us a photo. "And every four years since then, I've been fortunate enough to have the people want to keep me there," he said.

With 38 years on the bench, the now senior justice of the peace of Precinct 2 keeps things simple.

For Judge Rodriguez, he rules by the book, with common sense lighting the way.

"It's all the objective and you hear it all the time and it's true. It's there to help the people; all we have to do is apply that and make it function that way," he said.

And while the law hasn't changed all that much, with almost four decades behind him in Precinct 2, he has had to move with the times.

"It took me awhile to want to use a computer rather than a typewriter," he said. "I even have a cell phone, which I fought that for while."

Born and raised in Houston, with a law degree from University of Houston, the judge is now the longest serving, currently elected official in Harris County.

"I've had a lot of firsts in my life, as you know and being the longest serving is an honor," he said.

Judge Rodriguez has also started many programs along the way, including the Fiesta Patrias parade, and he is currently in the first year of his four-year term. When we asked him if he plans to run again, he said "that remains to be seen.

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