Crime, taxes and future role of Harris County government in race to be Pct. 4 commissioner

Seeking to represent more than a million residents in Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and Democratic challenger Lesley Briones went head-to-head in the public square with the Republican incumbent proudly defending his quorum-busting decision to "vote with his feet" against higher taxes and spending.

 "I refused to allow a massive increase that would have cost the public more than $250 million more dollars that day," said Cagle.

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Briones called Cagle's quorum-denying maneuver irresponsible for a growing County she believes needs more revenue.

"Talk about boots on the ground, they cannot go forward because the Sheriff's Office alone is going to be down $42 million and this is not rhetoric," said Briones in reference to the proposed budget increase de-railed by Cagle and fellow Republican Commissioner Tom Ramsey representing Precinct 3.

Cagle contends the Democratic claim of "budget cuts" is a false one, because even with the "no new revenue rate" the County will still collect $60-70 million dollars more next year than it did this year.

"So when folks are saying they are being cut in the political season just ask them how much more money they are getting and why are they calling it a cut? More money is not a cut," said Cagle.

Briones also criticized Cagle for opposing the proposed $1.2 billion bond issue to enhance roads, parks, and other infrastructure.

"Drive around this County; our parks need work," said Briones. "We certainly need to do a better job in terms of law enforcement and public safety, and we need the resources to do it."

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On the issue of hiring more patrol deputies to combat the crime wave, Briones insisted the Sheriff's Department has yet to hire for the openings it already has.

"The first thing we need to do is fill the 400 vacancies already approved," said Briones.

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Asked the same question, Cagle called for more "boots on the ground", sooner rather than later.

"The cops are supporting Cagle," he said. "You can put a lot of rhetoric out there, but look at the endorsements."

Briones says she favors continuing County funded daycare for working families initiated during the pandemic while Cagle believes social programs should take a back seat to "fundamentals" like roads, bridges and law enforcement.

The forum/debate was hosted by the Super Neighborhood Councils.