Race for Harris County Judge Lives Up to Billing

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has his hands full with David Mincberg, the man who wants to replace him. The Republican incumbent and Democratic challenger squared off in a televised debate. Pat Hernandez has more.


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The two candidates traded barbs on the PBS program Red, White & Blue: The Great Debate Series. Emmett, who was appointed Harris County Judge to fill the remaining term of Robert Eckels, has been accused by Mincberg of not being qualified to hold the position. His campaign has accused Emmett of fostering a culture of corruption.

The program also featured a spirited discussion of ethics, to which Emmett responded: “You know, last week he had a press conference, complaining about my calendar. I produced the ethics commission report and said ‘David, did you even bother to check with the ethics commission?, because what I’m doing is exactly not only the letter of the law but, the spirit of the law.”

Mincberg: “You know that’s not true. We’ve got the opinion. You violate every bit of the spirit of ethics reform.”

Emmett: “David!”
Mincberg: “You use office employees to schedule political events.”
Emmett: “David!”
Mincberg: “You have fund raising meetings in your office.”
Emmett: “David.”
Mincberg: “And the very first thing…”
Emmett: “You can continue to spout these untruths, but it doesn’t make them true.”
Mincberg: “You yourself have acknowledged that you don’t want to fill out the forms. Yesterday you told the Chronicle it’s a hassle.”
Emmett: “David.”
Mincberg: ” Those were your words.”
Emmett: “Is that required on the form?”
Mincberg: “It is not required on the form.” Emmett: “Thank you very much.”

I caught up with Emmett and Mincberg following their face-off.

Mincberg: “We were trying to get to a real discussion of the ethics and the culture of corruption at the county. Unfortunately, Mr Emmett didn’t really want to have that discussion.”

Emmett: “I guess this kind of captured the tone of the campaign. I mean, I’ve got ads talking about positive things, and all my mailers are positive, and all of his are negative.”

I then asked them what they hoped to leave the viewers.

Mincberg: “I hope they see that I present a totally different vision for leading Harris County, and one who wants to put an end to the culture of corruption at Harris County.”

Emmett: “I think they just saw the different tone of the two people. We really can’t have somebody who’s just totally negative at the head of county government.”

The debate airs at 8pm tonight on Channel 8.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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