Candidates for Harris County District Attorney Face Off

Two former Houston police officers vying to become Harris County District Attorney debate over qualifications. Democrat Clarence Bradford disagreed with Republican Pat Lykos over their experience when it comes to criminal justice. Pat Hernandez has more.


Bradford headed the Houston Police Department under two city administrations before practicing civil law. Lykos went from trying cases to presiding over felony trials after she left the HPD as a detective. Appearing on the PBS program Red, White & Blue: The Great Debate Series, the two candidates were asked what they will bring from the first day…begining with Lykos.

Pat Lykos: “From day one what you do is, you establish your leadership and you set a standard and you have a vision that you articulate, and you swear people into an oath. And, we are going to restore public trust and confidence in that office, and we are going to transform it into the best in the nation.”

Clarence Bradford: “On day one, you step in and say it’s going to be about obeying the law, respect in the principle of justice and pursuing the truth. But, we must balance public protection, offender accountability and rehabilitation needs.”

Bradford said he learned from the disgraced crime lab and the failed K-Mart raid, which happened under his watch. He disagreed with Lykos on the issue of mental health.

Lykos: “I’m very happy that my opponent has adopted my platform that I articulated when I first filed.”

Bradford: “Let’s go back to when she first filed. She filed sometime early this year. I filed in this race 18-months ago, to run against Chuck Rosenthal. As it relates to mental health crisis, as it relates to substance abusers, as police chief more than ten years, I implemented a crisis intervention training program, which required Houston police officers, the first in the state. It is mandated that all peace officers in the state receive training how to recognize, how to understand, and how to communicate better with victims suffering mental health crisis and substance abuse, a very effective program. I will mandate that training for everyone who works in the District Attorney’s office because homelessness, substance abuse and mental health crisis, they are three things that are inextricably intertwined, and they impact all of us. So, for the judge to say that I am emulating her, I think she needs to go back to 1998, to 1997.”

Moderator: “All right.”

I caught up with Bradford and Lykos after their debate.

Hernandez : “Having two former police officers running for the job of district attorney, there has to be a distinction in that as well.”

Lykos: “I wanted to make the distinction you have to be a lawyer who actually tried cases, and we don’t have time to educate somebody on a criminal justice system. We need to turn things around now.”

Bradford: “We must do things differently, and I”m taking a message of ‘let’s obey the law, respect the principle of justice, and pursue the truth about balancing public protection, offender accountability and rehabilitation needs.”

The debate airs at 8-pm tonight on Channel-8

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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