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Emmett, Morman gavel out their final Harris County Commissioners Court meeting

December 18, 2018

The final Harris County Commissioners Court meeting for Ed Emmett and Jack Morman went much as the others did: Members approved additional flood control projects, debated the future of the flood-damaged downtown courthouse and for an hour listened to residents comment on a number of issues.

Emmett, leading his final meeting after 11 years as county judge, a period in which he lead the county through several hurricanes and even more flood-producing storms, made no farewell speech.

“We are adjourned,” he said simply at 12:10 p.m., after the court reached the end of the agenda. Only in speaking to reporters afterwards did he reflect on stepping down.

Emmett, 69, said he was proud of his tenure, and cited his work towards improving mental health care and improving the Office of Emergency Management. He said he would miss being the face of the county during storms, where he was a consistent, calm presence for Harris County residents.

“I’m sure I’ll be like the old war horse the next time a storm comes,” he said. “I’ll be ‘oh, no. That’s not me anymore.’”

Emmett joined the court in 2007, and Morman won the Precinct 2 commissioner seat four years later. Both were defeated for re-election in November.

Neither man was eager for a fanfare over his departure, but both welcomed the well-wishes from a number of speakers, including District Attorney Kim Ogg, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and State Rep. Mary Ann Perez.

Perez read a proclamation commending Emmett and Morman for their service, to be approved by the Legislature.

Court members ribbed each other as usual, and there was nothing somber about the occasion. When Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle complained he was being excluded from photographs county employees had asked to take with the outgoing judge, Emmett showed that in defeat, he had not lost his sense of humor.

“If you’d had lost, you’d be up here, too,” Emmett deadpanned to uproarious laughter.

Morman, characteristic of the low profile the 40-year-old kept on the court, left the chamber at the conclusion of the meeting, disappeared into his office and was unavailable for comment.

Morman has accepted an offer from Cagle to work in Precinct 3’s capital projects department. Emmett in January will begin teaching public policy at Rice University and also join the school’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Democrats Linda Hidalgo and Adrian Garcia will become county judge and Precinct 2 commissioner in January, giving the court a Democratic majority for the first time in decades..

Zach Despart covers Harris County for the Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at zach.despart@chron.com.

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