February 2020 Commerce Club
Monday, March 9, 2020
Hidalgo Outlines Harris County Community Progress, 2020 Goals
Sold Out! That was the sign posted at the door of the February Commerce Club hosted by the Port Bureau on February 13 at the Houston Marriott South.
Judge Hidalgo, featured speaker of the event, opened her remarks with a special thanks to CAPT Bill Diehl, president of the Port Bureau, for his informative “Intro to the Port” meeting with her as she entered office in 2019. “We are proud of what you all have built,” said Hidalgo as she addressed the crowd with enthusiasm. “What a powerhouse it is! I am committed to building on your work and ready to learn more.”
Judge Hidalgo’s remarks centered on the progress made by Harris County in 2019 in areas such as increasing turn-out at the polls by allowing residents to vote at anywhere on Election day. She described the recent general fund budget approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court as a “family first budget” in its priorities, aimed at improving the community’s quality of life through greater funding for public health, pollution control, and early childhood development. While Hidalgo stressed that health care was a top priority for the community, environmental commitment was also of great importance. Almost $12 million was allocated in the budget for air monitoring and added resources for HazMat First Responders, enabling the county to “build on what industry can do”.
For developing budget priorities, performance-based metrics are important to Judge Hidalgo. “We want the right metrics to move forward,” she said. By seeking the best standards to measure to the success of initiatives, Hidalgo hopes Harris County will realize greater results in serving community needs.
Judge Hidalgo said the previous year had been about “responding”. This included the fires, floods, and storms impacting Harris County as well as public concerns about the criminal justice system. “This year,” Hidalgo emphasized, ‘the focus is on children.” Referring to studies that have shown that early childhood education is a major influencer for higher graduation rates and greater employment opportunities in adult life, she eagerly looks to bring these beneficial results to area communities. “We’ll be knocking on your doors,” said Hidalgo as she invited the support of all attendees in this focus on young children.
A Q &A session followed Judge Hidalgo’s talk, with questions that included improved transportation safety and flood control. In responding to transportation safety, Hidalgo stressed the importance of “catching up” on public transportation and a shift in the way infrastructure is viewed. She briefly discussed the significance Mayor Turner’s Resilient Houston plan in meeting flood control and response imperatives.