What is the role of the Harris County Judge?

Newly elected Democrat Lina Hidalgo is preparing to take on her new job as Harris County judge after unseating Ed Emmett.

Emmett, who had served Harris County for 11 years, will hand the seat to Hidalgo in January, but what exactly is the role of the Harris County Judge?


Once elected as county judge, the judge becomes the presiding officer and voting member of the Commissioners Court.

The Harris County judge has multiple duties, and the judge is also the county's director of emergency management.

Other duties include:

  • Represent the county in administrative functions
  • Overseeing all county government departments
  • Approving annual budgets for entire county
  • Approves/denies applications for beer licenses
  • Signs delayed certificates of birth and death
  • Can also perform wedding ceremonies
  • Presides over misdemeanor criminal and small civil cases

As Director of Emergency Management, the Harris County Judge is also in charge of helping prepare and protect residents from the effects of disasters.

  • Develop, maintain and coordinate a comprehensive emergency management plan
  • Activate and staff an Emergency Operations Center
  • Develop and assist in the delivery of effective public outreach programs

LINA HIDALGO: What we know about newly elected Harris County Judge

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be a resident of the State of Texas for two years
  • Must have resided for at least six months in the district
  • Must be registered to vote in Harris County
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