HARRIS COUNTY—Five Harris County residents have filed a petition against Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo calling for her removal from office, arguing that she has abandoned her duties and responsibilities as the elected head of the county government.
The petition was filed by Dave Wilson, a Houston Community College Trustee; Thomas Thrash; Thomas Bazan; Milinda Morris; and former Republican candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner Tom Slocum.
“Plaintiffs seek removal from office pursuant Texas Government Code § 87.011 on grounds that Defendant Hildalgo [sic] exercised gross carelessness in the discharge of her duties, or she is unfit or unable to promptly and properly discharge her official duties because of serious physical or mental defect that did not exist at the time of the election,” reads the petition.
The petition also cites Texas Government Code 22.041, which states that a member’s seat is considered “vacant” if the member is absent for three regular consecutive meetings or “unless the member is sick or has first obtained a leave of absence at a regular meeting.”
According to the petition, Hidalgo last attended a commissioners court meeting on July 27, 2023. She has since abandoned her office and failed to perform her duties and responsibilities. The plaintiffs claim she missed six court meetings, on August 8, August 17, August 22, August 29, September 12, and September 19.
In early August, Hidalgo’s office announced that she would be taking a medical leave of absence to seek in-patient treatment for depression—though she had been absent since late July.
Prior to the petition, former Republican candidate for Harris County Judge Alexandra del Moral Mealer wrote an op-ed in The Houston Chronicle calling on Hidalgo to either return to work or resign.
“We all applaud her personal decision to receive treatment for depression and are sympathetic to everyone struggling with mental health issues, but we must also be equally sympathetic with the residents of Harris County who are suffering from brutal inflation, unacceptable crime rates and crumbling infrastructure,” wrote Mealer.
After the op-ed was released, Hidalgo’s office published a letter saying her treatment took longer than expected and that she would return to her duties on October 2.
Harris County Judge’s Office spokesperson Brandon Marshall blasted the petition, calling it “meritless.”
“The petition is meritless and an absolute joke,” Marshall told The Houston Chronicle. “It repeatedly misspelled several words. Judge Hidalgo is looking forward to returning to the office on Monday, October 2, as she announced in her letter dated September 14, 2023.”
If Hidalgo were removed from office, the Harris County Commissioners Court would be authorized to appoint a replacement to serve until the next general election takes place.
Texas Scorecard reached out to Keith Gross, the lawyer representing the citizens in the petition, but did not receive a comment by publication.