I met with a plethora of public officials this past week, both in Houston and Austin. Mainly Democratic officials, though. The one exception, however, was this past afternoon, when I had the pleasure of meeting with Mike Sullivan, the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. Sullivan has always been extraordinarily non-controversial in comparison to many other Harris County Republicans. I endorsed Sullivan last year, and was happy that he won.
Sullivan talked to me about a variety of subject relating to his office, but two topics stood out. First, he told me that his office is working on allowing the use of credit cards for transactions at the Tax Assessor’s office. It actually took me by surprise that it wasn’t already like that–you can use plastic at the District/County Clerk and for most City transactions. Allowing the use of credit cards for such an operation, that is, in a place where the rubber really meet the road on Government (taxes and titles), is a good no-nonsense first step that reminded me of Mayor White synchronizing the lights downtown.
Second, Sullivan went to lengths talking to me about making the Voting Registrar segment of his office more accessible to the public. This was done by some symbolic gestures (such as opening the blinds on the office’s windows), as well as more concrete steps (making it easier to find out how to register and stopping the dead-but-not-dead voter purges). The way I see it, the Voting Registrar’s office (if it has to be an elected office), should be quite visible to the community. Sullivan is making good inroads to do that.
The beauty of a County or City office, be it even the partisan ones, is that the issues are very local. Far too many Democrats in local offices lost in 2010 because they were wrongly connected with all of Obama’s policies. That was wrong, and it would be wrong to write-off all local Republicans because of the bad apples in the Tea Party. I would have a little reluctance to Sullivan’s candidacy to the State Legislature or Congress, as we disagree on some more national issues (gun control, for one), but as long as he is managing the Tax and Voter departments, I have no disagreements.
But, anyways, back to Boston tomorrow.