and jazz nut. To many of the courthouse
gang he is just a nut. Since his appointment in 1973, Gray has been feuding
with just about everybody in county
government, including the commissioners,
whom he has called "a bunch of gravel
spreaders." (The commissioners maintain
Gray's archrival is County Auditor S.
Grady Fullerton, who wants Gray's
office to do its work by hand, not with
the computer system Gray installed.
Gray's opponent is 16-year veteran
City Treasurer Henry Kriegel, a Republican who says Fullerton drafted him for
the race. The bearded Kriegel, a former
FBI agent, is well-qualified and probably
tired of being at the mercy of politicians
in his appointive post.
But Gray is the highest ranking liberal
in the county's government and has the
endorsement of blacks, labor, the liberals,
Harris County Democrats and Bob Eckhardt. He also draws the backing of other
mavericks, like conservative Republican
The biggest blot on Gray's record as
far as progressives are concerned is his
unsuccessful attempt to fire his comptroller, Gary Van Ooteghem, a gay, for
saying he wanted to address the commissioners during office hours about
COUNTY CLERK: This is the only
race that a woman is sure to win.Democrat Anita Rodeheaver, assistant to retiring County Clerk R. E. "Bob" Tur-
rentine for the last 17 years, faces Republican Jean Hancock Chernosky.
Sometimes it seems that in every way
except gender Rodeheaver is one of the
good ol' boys. She is well-liked by the
courthouse gang and has employed both
her daughters and their husbands in the
clerk's office. That was revealed in the
course of a suit a former employee
filed against her and Turrentine alleging the worker was fired because of his
radical p oh tics.
But Rodeheaver is also a respected
professional who has been increasingly
responsible for the day-to-day management of Turrentines's office. She is solidly in favor of the ERA and women's
rights and is pledged to keep petty politics out of the clerk's office. She came
within a few votes of winning the
endorsement of the Harris County
Women's Political Caucus.
Chernosky has campaigned little for
the privilege of maintaining the county's
files of birth and death certificates and
deeds. She didn't answer the League of
Women Voters' questionnaire and is out
of the country at this writing.
DISTRICT CLERK Ray Hardy is a
good ol' boy in good standing. The
Democrat has held the slot for 10 years
and developed a nationally-recognized
streamlined system of jury selection.
But he has been accused of racist personnel policies by Operation Breadbasket's Pluria Marshall and in a suit
sanctioned by the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission filed by a
black woman former employee.
Republican challenger Bob Schneider
is something of an oddball for vowing to
use the post to point out the stupidity
of lawyers and judges. He was big on getting welfare cheats when he ran against
Ron Waters in 1972, but he also endorsed
abortion rights before the Supreme Court
JUDGES: All but two of the 60 major
judicial posts (that is, not including
justices of the peace) which Harris
County voters will consider are one-
person races. So the two are voters' only
chances to do something outside the
crazy system that allows virtually any
Democrat to remain on the bench as long
as he or she likes.
One contested judicial race is in the
newly created 263rd District Court.
Charles J. Hearn was appointed to the
bench by Gov. Dolph Briscoe after winning the crowded Democratic primary.
Republican Robert L. Baum, a geologist
turned lawyer and law professor, has been
endorsed by the Harris County Women's
Then there is infamous Judge Jimmie
Duncan of County Criminal Court
No. 3. Many lawyers say he is rude and
incompetent in the courtroom.
Duncan received more "not qualified"
ratings from Houston Bar Association
members than any other judge in the
county. Yet the 1,143 lawyers responding
to a questionnaire before the May
primaries also gave more "preferred"
ratings than either of his opponents,
which is more of a comment on the bar
But that was before Duncan was found
to have been taking firearms entered into
evidence in his court home to his personal
armory. That aroused the docile State
Judicial Conduct Commission enough to
Republican challenger Jack Miles has
been a practicing attorney for 21 years.
He was formerly with the FBI in Washington, D.C.and with the Justice Department in Houston.
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JUSTICES OF THE PEACE: By the
time most voters have worked their way
down the ballot through state and federal
races, voting for justices of the peace may
seem like small potatoes. But these judgeships are an important part of the judicial
system. And for many citizens, JP's are
their only contact with courts and form
most of their impressions of the government.
Democrat Michael David Peck and
Republican Bill Yeoman are each in their
first political battle in Precinct 5, Position
2. Peck, a young attorney, says the position needs someone with legal knowledge.
He opposes proposed constitutional
Amendment No. 4 which would extend
JP's jurisdiction, because he believes a
requirement that judges be lawyers
is needed first. Peck favors No. 4 and says
he will work to get the Commissioner's
Court to help computerize JP records.
But Peck charges Yeoman, who is noi an
attorney, is running mainly on the
strength of the name of his father,who is
the University of Houston's head football
Two contested JP races are on top in
Precinct 4. In Position 1, Democrat
H. N. McElroy faces Republican Houston
B. Southern. Position 2 pits Democrats
Gaylen L. Nix against Republican Davie
Wilson. All four are lawyers and non-
Wait, you're not through yet. There
are nine amendments to the state constitution to vote on. Really diligent
voters should consult the League of
Women Voters' general election voters
guide for analyses of the pros and cons by
the Texas Legislative Council. Three
amendments have drawn the most attention.
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