HOUSTON (FOX 26) - She wasted no time in putting her stamp on the court that had been Ed Emmett’s turf for so long. Judge Lina Hidalgo wanted to make the meetings more inclusive, so she made a proposal.
"To waive the 15 minute time limit on discussion of a single topic so we have adequate time to discuss the important issues before us today," she said.
She won. The motion passed easily. She also got the court to hear input after each agenda item, not at the end.
The first big talker on the agenda was in keeping with more inclusion theme -- allowing people to vote anywhere in the county on election day, including the early voting locations. Fifty-two Texas counties allow what's called the "Travis County Model". The idea is to get more voters to the polls, especially in poor and minority communities. Over 60 people signed up.
"Our concern is to make sure that we increase the likelihood of people voting," said James Douglas with the NAACP.
"I feel the countywide voting locations on election day would increase the potential of rampant voter fraud," said Sarah Ferguson.
This stretched out the comment period and hence the meeting by several hours. The court wasn't going to take any action on this day. This was just to hear arguments about whether or not the court should take this up at another time. In the meantime, some county commissioners pointed out that the new order of business meant county employees were sitting idle while this played out.
Hidalgo is just getting started with her reexamination of the court and is planning changes to times frequency and location of the meetings.
"Essentially review how we can adapt to what's happening in the community these days," Hidalgo says.
She says she will have a formal proposal to the court within 30 days.