Ced Collier knows it will be difficult to unseat Alan Rosen. He’s tried before and did not come close.
Making the challenge even trickier is the fact that Collier, who is again running against Rosen in the Democratic primary for Harris County Precinct 1 Constable, can’t fault the way Rosen has performed during his eight years in office. Collier said Rosen, first elected in 2012, has done a “fairly good job.”
Collier, a Harris County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant who received about 22 percent of the vote in the 2016 Democratic primary for Precinct 1 constable, is giving it a go nonetheless. Also on the ballot are Gilberto Reyna, one of Rosen’s former deputies, and Perry D. Wesley.
“It’s going to be hard to beat him. He’s the incumbent,” Collier said. “It’s going to be an uphill battle, but people need options.”
Harris County voters have an array of options in several political races leading up to the March 3 primary, which includes candidates for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. More locally, Northwest Houston voters will make primary picks in the races for Harris County Sheriff, Harris County District Attorney and Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 1, which ultimately will be decided in November.
There also are primaries for the United States Congressional seats held by Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee in District 18 and Republican Dan Crenshaw in District 2. The Texas state representative seats in District 139 and District 148 – held by Jarvis Johnson and fellow Democrat Anna Eastman, respectively – are up for grabs as well.
Early voting for the primaries is scheduled for Feb. 18-28, when 52 polling locations across Harris County will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. every day except Feb. 23, when polls will be open from 1-6 p.m. The office of Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman announced Wednesday that it will utilize a “multilingual virtual poll worker” to assist voters who speak languages other than English, including American Sign Language.
Like much of Houston, the area served by the Precinct 1 constable is culturally diverse. One of Rosen’s challengers, Reyna, said he can better serve predominantly Hispanic communities such as the Northside. Reyna said Rosen’s office has neglected that part of its constituency in comparison to others.
The 69-year-old Reyna, who has worked at both the Precinct 1 and Precinct 6 constable’s offices along with the county sheriff’s office, said he also would increase the amount of officers on patrol to better combat crime in the area.
Reyna said he wants to be especially mindful of shootings at schools and churches and wants to bolster patrols in those places as well. He said his son, Juan Gilberto Reyna, was shot and killed at Katy Mayde Creek High School in 2012 at the age of 16.
“I’ve been telling those people (in the community), anything can be done,” Reyna said. “I can do better than what they’re doing now.”
Rosen challenged the notion that he has neglected some of the communities he has been charged with serving and also said he has been a champion of diversity. He recently swore in Harris County’s first Sikh deputy constable, Amrit Singh, who is allowed to wear a turban while on duty as part of the office’s “articles of faith” policy.
Rosen also said he is an established leader when it comes to combating crimes such as human trafficking, child abuse, illegal dumping, animal cruelty and scams against senior citizens. He said his office has been awarded as the regional law enforcement agency of the year by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Rosen said he prides himself on connecting with the communities he serves and gives back through events such as annual toy drives and a charity basketball tournament.
“Anytime you’re running for office, you’re asking voters to look at your record, look at who you are and what you’ve done and if you’ve done a good job and met or exceeded the expectations of the people you work for,” Rosen said. “I work for the people. I don’t work for the county. I work for the Harris County taxpayers in Precinct 1. That’s who I focus on and how I measure myself.”
Collier, a 47-year-old Acres Home resident who has worked for the sheriff’s office for more than two decades, said he has become wiser since his previous primary bid. Since that time he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston-Downtown and graduated from the FBI National Academy. Collier said he’s now working on a master’s degree at Sam Houston State University. He also is a deacon at Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Collier, who in his current role works with traffic and flooding issues, said he would focus on mental health initiatives if elected.
“I think that issue crosses all boundaries of law enforcement and all agencies,” Collier said. “It’s something that no one really wants to tackle head on. But I think Precinct 1 is the mental health conservator of the county, and I think that’s a good starting platform to launch something that would be recognized nationwide.”
Before they can start implementing their ideas, Collier, Reyna and Wesley, who could not be reached for comment, must win the primary against Rosen. Collier said he respects and gets along with the incumbent, who does not shy away from being challenged.
Rosen said he’s continually fielding questions and asking questions, and continually learning, in an attempt to improve his office.
“We’re always trying to get better,” he said, “and always trying to do more.”
In The Running
The following is a list of primary election candidates in races that are important to Northwest Houston voters. Candidates are listed in the order in which they will appear on the ballot. Incumbents are denoted with asterisks. Complete sample ballots are available at harrisvotes.com.
Mary “MJ” Hegar
Annie “Mama” Garcia
Amanda K. Edwards
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez
Victor Hugo Harris
Jack Daniel Foster Jr.
John Anthony Castro
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 2
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 18
Jerry Ford Sr.
*Sheila Jackson Lee
Robert M. Cadena
Nathan J. Milliron
Ava Reynero Pate
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 139
*Jarvis D. Johnson
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 148
Penny Morales Shaw
Lui La Rotta
HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Mary Nan Huffman
Lloyd Wayne Oliver
HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF
HARRIS COUNTY COMMISSIONER PRECINCT 1
Maria T. (Terri) Jackson
HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLE PRECINCT 1
Perry D. Wesley
Gilberto “Gil” Reyna