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Public safety a top priority in race for Harris County judge

The race for Harris County judge is heating up and public safety appears to be a top priority for the candidates.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The race for the next Harris County judge is moving full speed ahead with public safety at the center of the matchup between incumbent Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Alexandra del moral Mealer.

Mealer, alongside members of law enforcement and union leaders, on Wednesday, released part of her plan to tackle crime in Harris County.

With $1.5 million on hand, Mealer is hitting the airwaves to increase her name recognition for voters with a focus on crime in Harris County.

“We don’t have to agree on every issue, but we agree on the most important, and the most important is our county’s responsibility, our obligation to protect the most vulnerable and that’s what’s not happened,” Mealer said.

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Mealer, a Republican, unveiled priorities she believes will solve public safety issues in the county.

“We have the votes when we get in office to fund 1,000 additional law enforcement positions that is a serious commitment to safety,” she said.

However, funding for additional officers could come with reduced funding for other areas such as county health and education programs, something Mealer acknowledged.

“So, it’s going to have to be cuts like I said, we’re talking about 5% of the budget across departments," Mealer said. "We’re offering a clear framework. The more you impact public safety, that’s the funding priority."

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Judge Lina Hidalgo, elected during a blue wave through Harris County, responded with the following statement:

"Now, this is something. Today, we hear of a 'bold' plan for more officers yet Mealer is critical of the pay raises for those officers. While yesterday, the attorney for Gov. Greg Abbott and Comptroller Glenn Hegar called accusations that Harris County defunded law enforcement 'much-a-do about nothing.' Top Republican leaders of Texas have repudiated Alex Mealer's repeated lies to the point she scrubbed them from her site, yet here we are."

RELATED: 'We have to fight back' | Harris County weighs legal action over state's defunding claims

Mealer says addressing the criminal court backlog, forensic delays and hiring more prosecutors will be part of her plan to reform criminal justice in the country’s fourth-largest county.

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