Commissioners say 'work is continuing' in Harris County amid Judge Lina Hidalgo's absence

Chaz Miller Image
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Harris County commissioners meet without Judge Lina Hidalgo
This was the first meeting of county commissioners since Judge Lina Hidalgo announced her leave of absence. But leaders said they'll get through it until she returns.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Commissioners Court took place in downtown Houston Tuesday, but County Judge Lina Hidalgo wasn't there to oversee it as she continues to receive treatment for depression in an out-of-state facility.

This was the first meeting of county commissioners since Hidalgo announced her leave of absence on Monday afternoon.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis took her place Tuesday, and each commissioner offered words of encouragement to Hidalgo at the beginning of the meeting.

"We all have her in our prayers," Ellis said.

The issue of how business will be conducted long-term in Hidalgo's absence remains to be seen, but Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said they'll get through it until she returns.

Hidalgo said she hopes to be back in September.

"The work is continuing," Garcia said.

The Harris County Commissioners Court is composed of four commissioners and Hidalgo.

She serves as the tie-breaker when commissioners are split on an issue, but what happens if they're split on something while Hidalgo isn't available?

"If there's something that creates an even split, my proposal would be to just hold the item until we have the full court here," Garcia said. "Then we'll resolve those issues."

He said this option has yet to be explored.

There's also the issue of hurricane season, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states is currently in its peak months of August through October.

Hidalgo said she would be available in the event of an emergency. Still, Garcia said the county has enough experienced staff on hand to allow Hidalgo to focus on her mental health should an emergency arise.

"The treatment should be first and foremost," he said. "We have other capable people here."

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