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Newly Inaugurated Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Kicks off County-Wide Engagement Initiative


January 5, 2019

Compiled by Ariana Pezeshki

Newly-elected Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's initiative is to bring together thousands of residents of all walks of life to have their voices heard about issues that matter to them and shape the future of Harris County, Texas.

(See Slideshow)

Lina Hidalgo's Win Over Ed Emmett

First time, 27-year-old candidate Lina Hidalgo defeated long-term serving incumbent Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in an upset last November. Emmett saw Harris Country through Hurricane Harvey and served as Harris County's Judge for 11 years.

Hidalgo was born in Colombia and moved to the US in 2005 where she attended High School in Katy, at Seven Lakes High School in 2009 and continued her pursuit in education at Stanford University where she received a degree in Political Science and became a US citizen.

Prior to her run, Hidalgo served as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center where Hidalgo supported immigrants in search of lost loved ones. Also pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at NYU and Harvard, Hidalgo conducted research on criminal justice policies and coordinated with advocacy groups and governments to push for criminal justice reform.

Historic Inauguration

After her historic inauguration with more than 2,200 attendees, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that she is launching a new civic engagement program designed to help shape the first year of her administration. Judge Hidalgo capped her inauguration remarks with an emphasis on opening the doors of County government at a public ceremony celebrating 81 newly elected Harris County officials. She highlighted the need for elected officials to “proactively inform our community about County government, and bring lessons from our community and from thought leaders into our policy agenda.”

Judge Hidalgo's Initiative

Talking Transition: Harris County, will provide a forum for residents to discuss the issues that matter most to them, learn about County government, and weigh in on pressing public policy matters. The first program of its kind in Harris County, Talking Transition will allow Judge Hidalgo and her team to obtain a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the issues and ideas that most impact County residents, as they work to shape their agenda. “Throughout my campaign, I pledged to increase transparency and accountability in Harris County government. Too few residents know how County government works and how to engage with it,” said Judge Lina Hidalgo. “For me, public service means ensuring that our most vulnerable residents have the same voice in our local government as the most powerful among us.”

Civic Engagement Program

Talking Transition: Harris County is expected to be the largest civic engagement program in the South. It is modeled after similar programs in New York and Washington, D.C., and made possible by the Houston Endowment and the Ford Foundation. “Houston Endowment recognizes the value of community voice in good governance,” saidAnn Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment. “By ensuring all voices are heard, we can continue to enhance our region’s assets, achieve equitable outcomes, and resolve issues that are important to the residents of Harris County.” Talking Transition will address seven public policy areas - education, housing, transportation, resiliency, health, justice, and economic opportunity - through a series of public events across the County. The initiative includes a variety of ways for Harris County residents to interact with and learn more about their local government. The core components include:

Transparency Project: Announcements throughout the County will provide easily-digestible information about how County government works and eye-opening statistics intended to motivate residents to learn more.


Civic Saturdays: Offered at a seven locations around Harris County, Civic Saturdays are a series of full-day public events happening on consecutive Saturdays:

Civic School: Features classroom-style lessons for Harris County residents to learn about how County government works.

Town Halls: A large gathering organized around a specific policy area that will give residents a chance to share new ideas for improving their communities and to hear from others.

Action Plan Workshops: Smaller working groups for people who have devoted time to specific issues to focus on how to best realize community-driven ideas through County government.

Survey: Teams of canvassers will be spread throughout the County to ask residents about what needs to be improved among County services, what would help them engage more with County government, and what needs to be prioritized when it comes to prioritizing the County budget. The survey will also be available both online and at each Civic Saturday.

All Talking Transitions events are free and open to the public. A full schedule of activities will become available online at


See Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's Swearing in Ceremony here:

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