By Shannon Wright
It was a heated discussion on the future of law enforcement in Harris County on Thursday, Oct. 13 as the two remaining candidates for Harris County Sheriff faced off at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) before members of the Houston community and UHD faculty, staff and students.
The debate between incumbent Ron Hickman and challenger Ed Gonzalez covered topics such as alleged destruction of evidence, jail overcrowding, the treatment of inmates, illegal searches and the Sheriff Office’s controversial 287g program with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The event was moderated by ABC13 investigative reporter Ted Oberg and Univision 45 anchor Rebecca Suarez. It was streamed live on ABC13’s website and broadcast later in the evening on Univision 45’s site. Students had the opportunity to participate by posing questions to the candidates.
“The debate was contentious,” said Oberg. “I would have liked more discussion about patrol, but jail issues soaked up a lot of time. I was impressed with the questions from the UHD students!”
UHD junior Magge Nunez asked the candidates their positions on the campus-carry law. Each candidate said they would have voted against the controversial law.
“I was shocked that both candidates said they would have voted no,” said Nunez.
After the debate, both candidates posed for photos and mingled with the crowd.
Gonzalez, a city councilman and former homicide detective, graduated from UHD.
“It was an honor to return to my alma mater to share my thought and ideas,” said Gonzalez. “I met a police officer in one of my classes who inspired me and that led to my career in public service. UHD set my professional career in motion.”
The sheriff’s debate was the second major political debate UHD hosted within the past year. In December 2015, the University hosted a debate between mayoral candidates Sylvester Turner and Bill King.
Photo credit: Thomas Shea