Pledging to improve the lives of his constituents and fight for important reforms that will benefit all Harris County residents, Rodney Ellis was sworn in as Precinct One Commissioner on Jan. 1.
A dedicated public servant who spent more than 25 years in the Texas Senate, Commissioner Ellis took the official oath of office with other county elected officials at a ceremony held on New Year’s Day.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner administered a second, ceremonial oath on Jan. 2 to Commissioner Ellis and more than 30 others elected to various Harris County offices.
“This really is to say thank you, first of all, to our voters for having confidence in us and also to the people who didn’t vote for us, to challenge us to do better,” Commissioner Ellis told the crowd at NRG Stadium. “This is an opportunity for all of us to say that we commit to you publicly to fulfill the promises that we made when we were running.”
Commissioner Ellis was elected last November to the Precinct One position, which was left vacant with the death of El Franco Lee. He honored the late Commissioner’s dedication and commitment to the Precinct at a gathering of employees on Jan. 3 at the Tom Bass Community Center.
“We can do great things in this Precinct and build on the legacy of El Franco Lee,” Commissioner Ellis told the group. Ethel Kaye Lee, Commissioner Lee’s widow, also attended the meeting, where she thanked employees for their kindness and praised Commissioner Ellis as a strong leader.
Commissioner Ellis said one of his first priorities will be to enact reforms to the County’s criminal justice system with the help of newly elected District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
“We want to make sure we protect the public by jailing dangerous criminals. But we don’t want an overcrowded jail with mostly low-level defendants who are there simply because they can’t make bond,” Commissioner Ellis said.
The Commissioner said he also will closely monitor the upcoming state legislative session, particularly any bills that would restrict the county’s ability to raise money to benefit its constituents.
Commissioner Ellis also pledged to build on the Precinct’s commitment to improving county roads and bridges and maintaining clean and safe parks. He is also committed to providing quality and accessible services and programs that will enhance the lives of citizens in Precinct One.
Commissioner Ellis was born in Houston and raised in the Sunnyside neighborhood. He attended the Texas public school system from grade school through law school.
In representing a Houston district in the Texas Senate for more than 25 years, he earned widespread praise as a leader on economic development, education, civil rights, budget issues, responsible environmental policy, tax cuts for the middle class, criminal justice, and workforce development.
Before joining the Texas Senate in 1990, Commissioner Ellis served three terms on the Houston City Council and as chief of staff to the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Commissioner Ellis also studied at Xavier University in New Orleans and the London School of Economics.
Commissioner Ellis is married to Licia Green-Ellis and has four children.