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Orlando Sanchez (born 14 October 1957 in Havana, Cuba) is an American politician, elected three times as Treasurer of Harris County, Texas (2006,[1] 2010,[2] and 2014.[3][4] Dylan Osborne was elected to succeed him in the November, 2018 election that saw most Republicans in county-wide offices replaced by Democrats[5].

Orlando Sanchez
Orlando Sanchez portrait
Orlando Sanchez
Harris County Treasurer
In office
January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2018
Preceded byJack Cato
Succeeded byDylan Osborne
Member of the Houston City Council from the At-large #3 District
In office
January, 1996 – January, 2001
Preceded byLloyd Kelley
Succeeded byShelley Sekula-Gibbs
Personal details
BornOctober 14, 1957 (1957-10-14) (age 61)
Havana, Cuba
ChildrenAubrie
ResidenceHouston, Texas
Alma materUniversity of Houston
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service United States Air Force
US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg Texas Air National Guard
Years of service1976 - 1978 (USAF)
1978 - 1989 (TANG)

A naturalized citizen, Sanchez has made political history as the first Latino immigrant to be elected to a citywide position in Houston, when he won the at-large seat on the city council, to which he was twice re-elected in consecutive terms, serving 1995-2001. In 2001 and 2003 he ran for mayor of Houston, gaining an alliance with Republican Anglos and generating high voter turnout in the Hispanic community. Both times he made it to the runoffs. When elected as Treasurer of Harris County, he was the first Latino immigrant to win a countywide, non-judicial elected office in that county.

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Sanchez was born in Havana, Cuba to native Cuban parents. His parents emigrated after the Cuban Revolution when he was a young child. The family stayed for a brief time in Venezuela,[6] before settling in Houston in 1962. Sanchez has lived here since. Former Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz hired Sanchez's father, Orlando Sanchez-Diago,[7] as a broadcaster to be the "Spanish voice" of the Colt .45s baseball club, which subsequently was renamed the Houston Astros.[8]

Sanchez grew up in southwest Houston, where he graduated from Bellaire High School (Bellaire, Texas). He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1976. After his tour, he enlisted in the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group of the Texas Air National Guard at the then-named Ellington Field. He attended the University of Houston and graduated cum laude with a degree in political science. In 1997, Sanchez was the University of Houston Social Sciences' Outstanding Young Alum and in 2001 received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.[9]

Political careerEdit

Sanchez joined the Republican Party and first ran for office in 1992 as the Republican nominee for Texas House District 132. In 1993 he was a candidate for Houston City Council in District C.[10]

In 1995, Sanchez successfully ran citywide for at-large position on the Houston City Council, where he served three terms, January 1996 to January 2002, stepping down due to term limits. He was the first Latino immigrant to be elected citywide in Houston's history. The Harris County Republican Party awarded Sanchez the 'Political Courage Award' for his vote to cut property taxes in Houston for the first time in decades.[11]

In 2001, Sanchez ran for Mayor of the City of Houston against the two-time incumbent Lee P. Brown, the former police chief of the city, and a fellow city councilman, Chris Bell. Sanchez, who gained 40% of the vote, faced Brown, who had 43%, in a run-off; Chris Bell received 16% of the ballots cast.[12][13] The centerpiece of Sanchez' campaign was public safety: he called for four fire fighters on each fire truck as the minimum needed to preserve lives and safety of the force, gaining the union's endorsement.[14] On September 11, 2001, fire fighters helping victims in the World Trade Center attacks became national heroes;[15] this helped to elevate the profile of Sanchez' cause. In October 2001, Houston Fire Captain Jay Janhke was killed while putting out a fire. Mayor Brown was strongly criticized and the Fire Department policy changed its policy, staffing four fighters per truck as the standard for each call.[16]

In the non-partisan election, Sanchez developed a coalition that included the Hispanic community, Asian business leaders, Republicans and independent voters.[17] Historically, Hispanic turnout in Houston races hovered around 10%, but nearly 18% of Hispanic voters turned out in this race, with more than 77% voting for Sanchez.[18]

Voter turnout in the 2001 mayoral race between Sanchez and Brown was historic. In addition to the near doubling of Latino voter turnout, the total number of voters in the December run-off remains the highest in Houston's history as of 2015. Sanchez narrowly lost the race by 10,702 votes.[19]

In 2003, Sanchez ran for mayor against Bill White, a businessman and well-connected Democrat, and Sylvester Turner, a state representative and former candidate for mayor against then-Mayor Bob Lanier.[20] Sanchez had improved his name identification in this race. Since his 2001 campaign, he had been offered several other opportunities, but said, "I knew, standing on that podium, looking at the crowd, that I would run again in 2003," Sanchez said. "It's what I want to do and be. When I start something, I stick to it."[21] Sanchez made the run-off,[22] but lost to Bill White in the general election.[23]

He was elected Harris County Treasurer in 2006 making him the first Latino immigrant in Harris County to be elected to a countywide non-judicial office.[24] Sanchez was reelected in 2010 and again in 2014. He lost in 2018 to Dylan Osborne, as Democratic candidates swept most contested Harris County races.

County TreasurerEdit

As County Treasurer, Orlando Sanchez oversaw Harris County’s multiple bank accounts, paid the county’s expenses and was an independent set of eyes in overseeing spending of county taxpayer dollars. The treasurer's office won several transparency awards after Sanchez took office including Sunny Awards for transparency in 2010 and 2011 from the Sunshine Review[25][26] and achieved Platinum Level in the Texas State Comptroller's Leadership Circle for Transparency in Local Government Reporting.[27]

Civic activitiesEdit

Sanchez sits on the Harris County Bail Bonds Board, is a member of the Board of Directors of Capital Bank Texas, a life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the 100 Club of Houston and is a former advisory member of the University of Houston Law School Foundation. He is a current advisory member of Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers-Southwest.[28] He is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that participates in memorial services honoring Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and Honorably Discharged Veterans.[29]

Personal lifeEdit

Orlando Sanchez married and has one daughter, Aubrie, a graduate of Boston University.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Final Cumulative — Official Harris County, Texas — General and Special Elections — November 07, 2006 (p. 29)". http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official Harris County, Texas — General and Special Elections Live — November 02, 2010 (p. 30)". http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ "Republican Party Cumulative Report — Official Harris County, Texas — Primary Election — March 04, 2014 (p. 23)". http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ "Harris County Treasurer's Office". http://harriscountytreasurer.com/. Harris County Texas. Retrieved 2014-06-17. External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official Harris County, Texas — General and Special Election -- November 06, 2018" (PDF). Harris Votes. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  6. ^ Graves, Rachel. "Orlando Sanchez Courts Old Allies". http://chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 2014-06-17. External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ "Ford C. Frick Award: Qualified Retired Broadcasters". http://community.baseballhall.org/. National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ Hart, Patricia. "Race of Races". http://www.texasmonthly.com/. Emmis Publishing, L.P. Retrieved 2014-06-17. External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ "HAO Honors Distinguished Young Alumnus" (PDF). Social Circuit. 2 (1): 5. Spring 1998. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  10. ^ Graves, Rachel. "Orlando Sanchez courts old allies". http://www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 2014-06-17. External link in |website= (help)
  11. ^ Williams, John. "Candidate Bell given GOP honor for tax cut". www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official Returns Harris County, Texas — Joint Elections — November 06, 2001" (PDF). http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  13. ^ Yardley, Jim. "Heading Toward a Runoff". https://www.nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  14. ^ Williams, John. "Houston Mayor: Race to unseat mayor includes two councilmen". http://www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  15. ^ Levy, Michael. "#4: Heroes of 9/11 (September 11 Attacks and Aftermath in Pictures)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  16. ^ Williams, John. "Firefighter's death stokes mayoral race". http://www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  17. ^ Yardley, Jim. "In Houston, a 'Nonpartisan' Race Is Anything But". https://www.nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  18. ^ "Case Study: Orlando Sanchez for Mayor, 2001 Campaign: How does David Beat Goliath?". http://capweststrategies.com. CapWest Strategies. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  19. ^ Fleck, Tim. "Parting Shots". Houston Press. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  20. ^ Hart, Patricia. "Race of Races". http://www.texasmonthly.com/. Emmis Publishing LP. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  21. ^ Williams, John. "Orlando Sanchez focuses on mayor's race". http://www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  22. ^ "Final Official Cumulative Results for Joint Elections November 4, 2003". http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  23. ^ "Final Official Cumulative Results for Joint Runoff Elections - December 6, 2003". http://www.cclerk.hctx.net/. Harris County Clerk's Office. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  24. ^ Mack, Kristen. "Newly elected treasurer may face fight for job". http://www.chron.com. Hearst. Retrieved 8 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  25. ^ "Sunny Awards". http://ballotpedia.org/. Lucy Burns Institute. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  26. ^ "HARRIS COUNTY WINS MAJOR AWARD FOR FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY ON WEB SITE". http://guidrynews.com. GuidryNews.com. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  27. ^ "Texas Transparency". http://www.texastransparency.org. Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved 22 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  28. ^ "Harris County Treasurer's Office". http://harriscountytreasurer.com/. Harris County Texas. Retrieved 2014-06-17. External link in |website= (help)
  29. ^ "Patriot Guard Riders". Retrieved 11 August 2014.