Taking Up the Charge
Sylvia Garcia was elected to the Harris County Commissioner's Court in 2002. She was the first woman and first Latina elected to that post in her own right. Prior to her election, women who served on the court were appointed to complete the terms of male commissioners.
Sylvia Garcia ran on a platform of improving public health care in Harris County and supported measures to bolster the Harris County Hospital District. She continued the work her predecessor, Jim Fonteno, made to senior citizen programs and services.
Garcia's tenure with the court was marked by her advocacy for working families. She made certain Harris County took care of its most defenseless, all while making certain Harris County led the way for new jobs and economic development.
Sylvia Garcia served two terms as Commissioner of Precinct 2 but failed to win re-election in 2010. She was sworn into the Texas State Senate on March 11, 2013, representing Senate District 6 as the seventh woman and the third Hispanic woman to serve in the upper chambers. In November 2018 she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Latina ever to represent the Texas 29th Congressional district.
Businesswoman Elizabeth Ghrist was chosen to complete Commissioner Bob Eckles' term after he resigned from office in 1987.
Judge Jon Lindsay wanted a Republican who was familiar with county government and would not stand for election to the seat. Ghrist was appointed to serve out the last year of Eckles' term. She did not run for election after her tenure with the court.
Ruth White Turrentine was appointed by Judge Hofheinz in 1942 to fill the Precinct 1 seat of her husband, R.E. Turrentine, Jr., when he volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy.
Ruth Turrentine handily won the Democratic Primary in 1944 guaranteeing her seat on the court. She decided not to seek re-election in 1946 after her husband returned from the service.
C.D. Massey served as Harris County Commissioner in Precinct 2 from 1927 until his death in March 1935, at which time Beatrice Massey was selected to succeed her husband and served for the remainder of his term.
Beatrice Massey ran for and won election to the office in 1936. She continued to serve as Precinct 2 commissioner until her defeat in 1938.
Massey was a proponent of unions and unionized all Precinct 2 employees. After being defeated in 1938, Massey worked at the Harris County Tax Office in Baytown, resigning her position in 1953.
Massey was concerned about the condition of roads and ferries in her precinct and, while commissioner, championed many road and bridge improvements, including linking the communities of Goose Creek, La Porte, and Pelly with Houston via concrete roads for the first time. Massey pushed for a bridge or tunnel to be built that would connect Baytown and La Porte across the Houston Ship Channel, which would eventually come to fruition in 1953 as the Baytown Tunnel, replaced in 1995 by the Fred Hartman Bridge. Massey is credited with saving the Farm Resettlement project in Highlands, Texas.