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Harris County Commissioners Meet For First Time Since Death Of Colleague

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is expected to appoint a replacement this month to serve out the rest of Commissioner Lee’s term.

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A black ribbon is wrapped around the empty seat of the late Precinct 1 Commissioner El Franco Lee.
Syeda Hasan
Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee passed away Sunday morning in an apparent heart attack. A black ribbon is wrapped around the commissioner’s empty seat in remembrance.

A black ribbon was wrapped around the empty seat of the Precinct 1 commissioner. El Franco Lee died Sunday at the age of 66 after 30 years in office.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says it was the most difficult meeting he's ever presided over. But he says Commissioner Lee would have wanted the court to continue business as usual.

"There's a lot of sadness here, but I'm going to leave this room and I'm going to be smiling – it's hard right now – but I'm going to be smiling, because I knew El Franco Lee," Emmett says.

Commissioners quickly approved agenda items before paying their respects to Lee. He's being remembered as the first African-American ever elected to the Commissioners Court. Judge Emmett also invited members of Lee's staff to share their thoughts.

David Benson with Precinct 1 says they'll continue Lee's mission of improving infrastructure.

"We feel the tremendous obligation and responsibility to not only sustain this legacy but to make it even better," Benson says.

Judge Emmett is expected to appoint a replacement this month to serve out the rest of Lee's term.

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