Lina Hidalgo, a 27-Year-Old Latina, Will Lead Harris County, Texas’ Biggest

Lina Hidalgo never thought she would certainly work in politics or run for office.

She as well as her family fled their home country of Colombia as a drug war raged, arriving inside United States in 2005. She studied law, public policy as well as political science at elite universities as she pursued a career influencing government by the outside.

however on Tuesday, Ms. Hidalgo, a 27-year-old Democrat, narrowly won an upset election to lead Harris County, which includes Houston as well as can be the third-most populous county inside country as well as the largest in Texas. She beat the 11-year Republican incumbent to become the first woman as well as the first Latina elected to the county judge office.

Ms. Hidalgo said she decided to run for office after the 2016 election because of the divisiveness the item displayed. She ran as an outsider candidate.

“I’m not tied to the powers which be,” she said in an interview on Thursday. “People were inspired. Their hearts led them to speak up in a year in which our democracy seemed to be under threat.”

Tuesday’s midterm elections were unlike any which Texas had seen in decades. Representative Beto O’Rourke lost to Senator Ted Cruz by less than 3 percentage points in a Senate race, one of the smallest margins in years for a Democrat running for statewide office. Democrats also flipped at least two congressional seats, 12 State House seats as well as two State Senate seats.

[See the full election results in Texas.]

Ms. Hidalgo’s victory showed which the elections also yielded significant adjustments at local levels, including inside fast-growing, multicultural metropolis of Houston. A record 17 African-American women were elected to judgeships in Harris County, in a campaign they called “Harris County Black Girl Magic.”

One of those women, Latosha Lewis Payne, 44, who was elected to the 55th Civil Court, said she was surprised so many black women were elected. She said the diversity would certainly “increase the fairness as well as justice in Harris County.”

“The effect of having which many African-American women, however also women in general inside judiciary, can be amazing,” Ms. Payne said. “the item’s one of those things which you dream the item, however you don’t believe which can be actually going to happen.”

In her race for county judge, Ms. Hidalgo beat Ed Emmett, who spent eight years inside State Legislature before being appointed as county judge in 2007 after his predecessor resigned. He was elected in 2008 with more than 53 percent of the vote to finish out the term, as well as re-elected in 2010 as well as 2014 with about 60 percent as well as 83 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, Ms. Hidalgo earned 49.7 percent of the vote as well as Mr. Emmett 48.2 percent.

Mr. Emmett could not be reached for comment on Thursday. In a series of tweets, he attributed his loss in part to straight-ticket voting, in which voters can select which party they want to vote for as well as the voting machine automatically selects all candidates of which party. More than 511,000 voters cast straight-ticket Democratic ballots in Harris County, which features a population of more than 4.7 million people, compared with about 408,000 Republican straight-ticket ballots.

“producing up which deficit was just not possible,” Mr. Emmett wrote.

however Ms. Hidalgo said she did not think people voted solely for Democrats “out of reflex.”

“They voted because they knew there were people on the ticket like me,” she said.

Last year, Texas enacted a law eliminating straight-ticket voting starting in 2020, in part because the item discourages voters by researching candidates.

Critics had questioned Ms. Hidalgo’s experience, noting which she had never physically attended a meeting of the Harris County Commissioners Court, which she will preside over when she takes office in January. She called the item a “nonissue,” saying she had watched live-stream broadcasts of the meetings.

Ms. Hidalgo said she ran a targeted campaign with television advertisements as well as door-to-door outreach.

“This kind of didn’t happen by accident,” she said during her victory speech on Tuesday. “We’ve been working on This kind of for 15 months.”

Michael O. Adams, the chairman of the political science department at Texas Southern University in Houston, pointed to Mr. O’Rourke’s candidacy, a backlash to President Trump as well as a diversifying populace in Harris County as well as its suburbs as helping Democrats inside Houston area.

He said which without the straight-ticket ballots, he would certainly not have expected Ms. Hidalgo or some some other local Democratic candidates to win their elections. He said Mr. Emmett was a centrist politician with cross-party appeal.

“I know Harris County has been moving or trending toward being blue,” Dr. Adams said. “I think what happened on the ground here can be a tremendous get-out-the-vote effort.”

For Ms. Hidalgo, arriving inside United States in 2005 as well as going to a public high school presented a contrast with the corruption as well as violence she had seen in Colombia.

“You couldn’t go to the grocery store without worrying about a bomb,” she said. “Everyone knew somebody who had been kidnapped.”

She attended Stanford University, graduating which has a degree in political science in 2013, the same year she became a United States citizen.

After which, she worked for a nonprofit promoting press freedom internationally as well as as a Spanish-language interpreter at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

In 2015, Ms. Hidalgo began pursuing a joint degree in public policy as well as law at the Kennedy School at Harvard University as well as brand new York University.

After she decided to run for office, she put her degree on hold. During the campaign, she drew on her immigrant background as well as focused on criminal justice reform, transparency in county government as well as flooding control after Hurricane Harvey as well as some other severe storms ravaged Houston.

She said of her victory, “I genuinely trust which folks remember This kind of year as the year in which people saw as well as stepped up as well as volunteered for once as well as got involved in campaigns for once.”