Dem County Judge Hopefuls Ready for March 4th

It’s a tale of two very different backgrounds for the men vying to be the Democratic nominee in the race for Harris County judge. Ahmad Hassan and David Mincberg both have business backgrounds, but are approaching the race from opposite directions. Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams explains.

Ahmad Hassan is an Egyptian immigrant who has been in Houston since 2002. An investor and owner of a real estate and mortgage business, Hassan is short on political experience, but full of passion.

“I want to do something for people. I want to do it because I want to pay America back something. I don’t want to do it just for the fun of it or to go play golf. If you want to de something like this, you do it for the love of our country, the love of our citizen.”

p>David Mincberg is a life-long Houstonian who has a law degree and has spent most of his life as a real estate developer. He served as Harris County Democratic Chair from 1994-1998 and as Mayor White’s affordable housing czar until last year.

“I’ve been here my entire life. I’ve seen the growth and I want to make sure that the quality of life and the quality of growth that we have in the county for our future is first rate. I want to be sure Harris County competes well, effectively and efficiently with other regions from across the country.”

Both agree the issue of ethics is a big part of the race for County Judge. Hassan, who considers himself a political outsider, says he’d do away with the status quo.

“If we stay away from the “good old boy” system and rub shoulders and elect so-and-so because he has big signs, so-and-so does this, so-and-so does this. I think if we go about with the right person, I think we’re going to resolve all these issues.”

Mincberg says he sees the current culture within the county as one of the big reasons why he’s running for County Judge. He says he’d work to make county business transparent.

“I would start with what is called the “pay for play” system down there and I’d shine the light on that, on people who are making very large contributions and ending up with very large contracts. That’s something that really destroys the public confidence in the entire system at the county.”

Because the county operates on a budget surplus, Hassan says he’d take some of that extra taxpayer money and invest it in more affordable housing.

“We need to bring this level and the condition of living up to standard. These people who live there, they are Americans also, even if they are not wealthy also, but they have every right to live life.”

Mincberg says he’d take a close look at exactly what the county spends money on and if any could be saved or given back to taxpayers.

“The very first think I’d do is create a comprehensive review program of what is the count budgeting? What are the needs? What’s the assessment and is there money sufficient for a rainy day fund or for cuts in taxes.”

Both candidates agree on transportation issues. They say light and commuter rail should be a big part of the county’s transportation future. Either Mincberg or Hassan will face either Republican Ed Emmett or Charles Bacarrise in the November election.