Chris Hollins '07 wins runoff election to Become Houston's City ControllerDecember 12, 2023
Attorney Chris Hollins '07 beat former Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez in the runoff election to become Houston's next controller, cruising to a 59.1% to 40.9% win once all votes were counted, to become City Hall's next financial watchdog.
"We’re excited," Hollins told the Houston Chronicle Saturday night at his watch party at Chapman and Kirby, shortly after the early results came in. “The people of Houston spoke with one voice today. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it."
A 37-year-old personal injury attorney, Hollins formerly served as the Harris County Clerk, where he introduced drive-thru and 24-hour voting and oversaw the county’s vote during the contentious 2020 presidential election. He also organized a series of get-out-the-vote events, including the "Giddy Up to the Polls" mini trail ride, that helped produce record turnout during that year’s early voting period.
Hollins garnered endorsements from notable elected officials, including outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner and outgoing Controller Chris Brown. He has also received the support of local groups and unions, such as Progress Texas and the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.
Hollins said Saturday that "it’s inspiring" to see his supporters out in force despite the busy holiday season and Saturday’s bad weather.
“It was tough to come out a second time,” Hollins said. “To see folks come out and pull that lever to just be a part of the grassroots movement that we built… I’m humbled by it.”
The controller acts as the financial watchdog within Houston’s "strong mayor" system, where the mayor controls all administrative aspects within the city government. The controller’s duties include auditing city departments, processing city payments, investing city funds and producing periodic reports on the city’s financial situation.
Even though the controller does not have the authority to carry out policies, he or she has the power to call out problems at City Hall through audits and, sometimes, indirectly influence the city’s decisions. Brown, for instance, recently put the brakes on a massive airport terminal overhaul project by declining to certify the availability of the city funding.
During his campaign, Hollins vowed to help tackle Houston’s projected budget shortfall by aggressively auditing city operations as well as proactively sharing best practices with city officials. Specifically, he said he would take a closer look at Houston’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, drainage fund and permitting center, all of which have faced scrutiny.
Another of his priorities, Hollins said, is to rebuild trust between constituents and city leaders by making city finances more transparent. He said he would explore the use of new technologies, such as ChatGPT, to create a better platform for Houstonians to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.
Read more at the Houston Chronicle.