Every election night, the members of this board gather around our computer screens and begin clicking refresh every few seconds, for hours on end. We got to the website of the County Clerk, who first publishes local election results every time residents of Harris County go to the polls. Given that, with the exception of absentee and provisional ballots (which are not counted on election night anyways), the entire county votes on electronic ballots, and have been for many years, counting the votes should be relatively simple. But the office of the County Clerk, Stan Stanart, somehow takes its sweet time. Hours and hours later, those following online will surely be familiar with hasthag of “#FireStanStanart,” for the apparently general failure of duties.
It’s a cute slogan, but we would be awfully superficial to demand voters break from an incumbent because you don’t get election results for a few more hours. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of ineptitude in office. While it is true that many of the county’s records have been updated and the electronic filing has now become the norm, this isn’t really because of any bright maneuvering on the part of Stanart. A few orders of the Texas Supreme Court’s Chief Justice have actually been needed to move Harris County into the 21st century, and even these transitions have been handled poorly.
But the County Clerk isn’t just about overseeing filings; as the first paragraph would suggest, he also serves as the Elections Administrator for the county. This board believes that such a position should be appointed and non-partisan, but as long as it isn’t, it should be served by someone at least willing to play a neutral part. Simply put, Stanart is not that person. He has possibly unethically blurred the lines between office and politics on numerous occasions. Most recently, he sent out a mailer, reiterating his role as Elections Administrator, urging constituents to vote the Republican slate. Over the summer, he showed up in a prominent role at rallies opposing things such as non-discrimination for gays and lesbians, which have nothing to do with his job.
Stanart’s Democratic opponent, Ann Bennett, is a good fit for the position. Though she has run for a plethora of positions in the past, she has more than 14 years experience as a Court Coordinator at the county level. Obviously, she is more than capable of working through the intricate ins-and-outs of the role.
Others have derided Bennett’s alleged lack of specifics in how she would rectify Stanart’s wrongs. We are simply flabbergassed that anyone could be so vacuous as to make such an asinine claim. Merely not committing possibly unethical behavior or engaging in general ineptitude would be a welcome shift, in and of itself. But Bennett would do more. Not looking at just climbing the political ropes, she would have the familiarity needed for a County Clerk, in order to oversee any changes needed for the department in coming years.
Accordingly, this board endorses Ann Bennett for County Clerk.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston, Luis Fayad of College Station and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority of the voting board.