HOUSTON - Republican Alex Mealer is calling her challenge of incumbent Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo a referendum on public safety and runaway violence. 61 days out from the election, the West Point graduate and Afghan War veteran delivered a pledge.
"We have the votes when we get in office to fund a thousand more law enforcement positions," said Mealer. "That is a serious commitment to safety. That is what an immediate solution to looks like to an immediate problem. More resources mean quicker response times, faster investigations, and dangerous criminals off the street."
Mealer was flanked by every major law enforcement organization in Harris County, all of which backed her commitment for substantially more "boots on the ground".
"The people of Harris County have figured it out. They know we are in a public safety crisis, one that we've never seen because of the failed policies put in by the current administration," said Mark Herman, Harris County Constable Pct. 4.
"At some point we have to call out these elected officials who have a job to do and have failed miserably at it. We can see it on the streets every single day," said Doug Griffith, President of the Houston Police Officers Union.
"You have Constables and Sheriffs locking arms and saying enough is enough and it's time to adopt policies that will address the lawlessness that's on our streets," said Jack Cagle, Harris County Commissioner Pct. 4.
As for funding the added law enforcement personnel Mealer says it's a matter of establishing meaningful crime reduction as a top priority.
"Because if you ask residents do they want another bureaucrat or do they want another law enforcement officer patrolling or working in our jails it's a pretty clear choice and that's what we are making this election about," said Mealer.
Mealer again challenged the incumbent Hidalgo to debate with a taunt.
"I understand you might be scared. If I had your record, I'd be scared too," said Mealer.
While Hidalgo a poll just released by the UH-Hobby School has Hidalgo leading by 10 points, the Houston Firefighter's Union says it is backing the play of fellow first responders in law enforcement supporting Mealer.
Hidalgo released a statement Wednesday regarding the budget saying:
"I’m proud to champion a budget that both decreases the tax rate and adds millions of dollars to public safety, including a substantial pay increase for frontline police officers. On the other hand, the strategy some have taken of promoting half-baked and unworkable budget proposals is irresponsible and ignores the realities and trade-offs of what it takes to successfully govern a county. At a time when the nine Harris County police agencies currently have more than 400 fully funded yet unfilled positions, these illogical proposals would create hundreds of new positions that may never be filled, while preventing raises for the current police officers and cutting critical funding for flood control, public health, and other areas.
"The bottom line is this: If state officials and some far-right politicians here at the local level get what they want–a political stunt and then skipping the vote for a serious budget proposal–Harris County residents will bear the brunt of their games, losing critical services across many aspects of their lives."