Democratic incumbent Vince Ryan touts his service in all levels of government. Ryan was appointed to the Panama Canal Commission by President Clinton. He helped oversee the transfer of the canal to Panama.
He also spent six years on Houston City Council representing District C.
In 2009, Ryan took office as Harris County Attorney after previous experience as an assistant county attorney.
"Well, I think it does give me a breath of experience, where I understand some of the issues facing communities better than most."
Ryan's office handles the county's legal business. That includes contracts, employment law, and litigation in federal and state courts.
Another big focus is compliance. Ryan says his office is helping neighborhoods combat nuisances, that includes things like illegal dumping and violations of deed restrictions. They're also dealing with sexually-oriented businesses.
"A massage parlor isn't really a massage parlor. It's a sexually-oriented business. So we have the authority to enforce compliance against nuisances, in other words, shut down nuisances. And that's one way we can help neighborhoods."
Ryan says one thing they're doing to combat nuisances is putting contract county attorneys with local management districts to focus on specific issues. He says the effort is similar to the contract deputy program offered by the sheriff's department and constable's precincts.
"So there's a wide range of way that we can help communities, and help the other public officials at the county level help those communities."
Ryan's Republican challenger is former State Representative Robert Talton. He's now an attorney in private practice. Talton has also served as city attorney in South Houston and in Pearland. He declined our request for an interview.
For election coverage, visit kuhf.org/election2012.