HOUSTON (FOX26) - Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced his appointment of Gene Locke to replace the late El Franco Lee as Harris County Precinct 1 commissioner, Friday morning
Commissioner Lee died Jan. 3 at 66 years of age after more than 30 years in office. Under state law, Emmett designates Lee’s replacement to serve through Dec. 31, 2016.
Locke, 68, is a partner at the Andrews Kurth law firm and a former Houston mayoral candidate. He will serve as commissioner for Precinct 1 through Dec. 31.
Locke, a longtime friend and counsel to Lee, has said he does not intend to run for election after the current term expires.
Emmett said he two main criteria in selecting a new commissioner. "My first goal has been to find a person who knew Commissioner Lee and his family, so that El Franco's priorities would be continued," Emmett said. "Secondly, I hoped to find someone who understands the workings of Harris County government. Gene Locke meets both criteria very well."
Locke, has a long history of activism and public service, including stints as city attorney from 1995-1998, general counsel to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and special counsel to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. He also represented Commissioners Court during the court's most recent redistricting efforts.
"This precinct belongs to El Franco Lee," Locke said after his swearing in. "And anything I do for the next 11 months belongs to his legacy."
Harris County Democratic Party officials will designate Lee’s replacement on the November 2016 ballot and, because no other candidates filed for election, that designee will be elected to serve through Dec. 31, 2020.