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Stanart slams Sylvia Garcia

August 28, 2018

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart is accusing State Sen. Sylvia Garcia of delaying her resignation to boost her state pension even though it could leave 840,000 people in and around Houston without representation when the Texas Legislature convenes in January.

Stanart sent a sharply worded letter to reporters accusing Garcia of playing political games to make him look bad and boost her own bottom line financially. Garcia, who is running for Congress, last week called on Stanart to call a special election for her soon-to-be-vacant state Senate seat because Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has refused to call one.

Abbott’s staff has told Garcia that her “intent to resign” letter is insufficient. Abbott’s chief of staff has told Garcia she has to submit a letter without the word “intent.” Garcia has refused to do so.

Stanart, who is up for re-election this November, says in a statement to the media that Garcia’s staff is trying to make “some political points by dragging me into this issue.” He said he does not have the authority to call a special election for her Senate district.

“I also understand that the likely reason you want to delay your resignation until after Jan 1, 2019, is to increase your state pension,” Stanart said.

Garcia won her Democratic primary in the 29th Congressional District and is now heavily favored to defeat Republican Phillip Aronoff in the general election. If she wins, her salary will be $174,000 a year. Plus according to Garcia’s financial disclosure reports, she also collects $60,840 a year from the city of Houston for her pension from serving as a judge and as the city’s controller.

She also receives a $30,981 a year pension from the county where she served on the commissioners’ court. Currently, she earns $6,640 a year as a state senator.

Garcia has said she is not resigning immediately to fulfill her obligation to represent people in the 6th District, which includes Houston’s East End, South Houston, part of Pasadena and stretches all the way out to Baytown. If Garcia had resigned before Aug. 20, Abbott could have set a special election for her replacements to battle in a special election on November 6, the same day as the midterm elections.

Instead, Abbott now will be unable to set a special election until after the general election and risks not having a new member in place when the Legislature next meets on January 8.

Garcia did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Stanart’s letter.

jeremy.wallace@chron.com

Twitter.com/JeremySWallace

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