Lina Hidalgo had just landed in Vancouver when she got a call from an employee; the National Weather Service issued a warning that a “huge, extremely dangerous and potentially deadly” tornado was headed for Houston Come. The damage is expected to be severe. Once Hidalgo’s connection to Houston landed, could she go directly to the affected area? She could and did, surveying downed power lines and near-destroyed homes—roofs torn clean and debris clogging grass and unattended corners. She signed a disaster declaration and coordinated with local nonprofits to provide insurance assistance to those affected, including undocumented families—”I got the briefing during the layover and I immediately thought, ‘I need to communicate with community talk,'” she said.
Hidalgo reached out to two of the towns hardest hit by the tornadoes, which happen to have Republican mayors, so that together they can comfort voters. “We agreed to meet in one of our hardest-hit areas,” said Jeff Wagner, the Republican mayor of Pasadena, southeast of Houston. “Crews were already working to clear debris from people’s front doors as we walked through the neighborhood. I expressed to her the importance of a quick response and she agreed and offered to send in county cleaners to assist.”
Bipartisanship has become a legend in Washington DC, but it’s normal for Hidalgo, who served as Harris in 25 County judge — one of the most important elected players in Texas politics — since January 25. She could be the most powerful Democrat you’ve never heard of: a young, recently reelected leader overseeing a multibillion-dollar county budget in the country’s second-most popular state. And she doesn’t have the luxury of snubbing her Republican colleagues. “My focus is to stand up for districts that will never vote for me, because I may not be able to change their minds, but I do represent them,” Hidalgo told me over a hurried vegan breakfast of tacos in the afternoon. . (She’s a regular at immigrant-run food trucks and independent coffee shops in the city, and, whatever you think, being vegan isn’t a problem in Houston’s food scene—”unless I’m asked to serve as a Judges BBQ competition,” she said.) Hidalgo reminded me that long before she had any impact on Texas politics, she was just a resident of the nearby suburb of Katy, where homes routinely flooded in heavy rain. “Everyone has known for a long time that Houston and Harris counties are prone to flooding, but my question is, why do people know they shouldn’t be building in these places?”
What to do in the face of increasingly extreme weather — a particularly acute problem in Texas, where deadly ice storms and record-breaking heat occur with distressing regularity — is the question motivating Hidalgo . Her duties required her to coordinate emergency response and chair the five-member Harris County Commission, the county’s governing body. Find her there for feedback, attention, and Parks and Recreation – town hall – nostalgic complaints from ordinary Texans – or just doing her best Best effort to get her side seen by her Republican counterparts in the Houston administration. “What I admire about Lina is her focus on the best public policy. Politics is secondary. )” When [Hidalgo] was elected, people kept saying, ‘Maybe she’ll run for governor,’ and I kept saying, ‘Harris County has 4.6 million people in it, and if it were a state, it would be the #1 in the country. She’s already Governor of Harris County,” said reporter and Texas Tribune co-founder Evan “The opportunity to lead such a large population in such a strategically important location, especially during a pandemic, gives her the opportunity to flex her muscles and pick fights with her superiors if necessary, while she Doesn’t seem afraid to do it. “