Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown to face predecessor Lupe Valdez, who ran for governor in 2018, in runoff election

dfwnewsa | March 8, 2024 | 0 | Dallas News

Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown to face predecessor Lupe Valdez, who ran for governor in 2018, in runoff election
Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, left, and current Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown. – Photo courtesy of Dallas County Sheriff Department

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(The Texas Tribune) – Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, is heading to a runoff election against incumbent Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown.

Brown led the Democratic ticket with 42% of votes and Valdez followed with 38%, according to unofficial results. Three other Democratic contenders – retired Dallas County Constable Roy Williams Jr., police training instructor Sam Mohamed and former federal correctional officer Rodney Thomas were also on the Democratic ticket but together won less than 20% of votes. With no Republican challengers on the ballot, the winner of the May 28 runoff will run unopposed in the November general election.

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That wasn’t the case in 2004, when Valdez was first elected Dallas County’s sheriff, narrowly beating a Republican incumbent. She was the first Latina in the role and one of few openly lesbian officeholders in Texas. During her tenure, Valdez oversaw one of the nation’s largest county jail systems, which struggled with inadequate inmate health care, poor ventilation and insufficient staff training.

The U.S. Justice Department sued Valdez and the county, arguing that their poor facilities violated inmates’ constitutional rights. They dropped their suit in 2011, after the jail finally passed a state inspection in 2010 – due to more than $138 million that county officials spent renovating the facility.

Valdez, who now works as a DeSoto Police Department officer, has said that she decided to run for her old job after learning about some “painful” incidents that she did not detail. Her campaign manager, Mike Hendrix, said she wants to return to the post because of low morale among deputies and jailors.

Under Brown’s leadership, the Dallas County Jail failed two annual state inspections before returning to compliance last year. The jail has struggled with long waitlists for people who need to be transferred from the jail to state mental health facilities and was at the center of a six-year legal dispute over bail practices. A new criminal case management system also contributed to jail overcrowding, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Hendrix said Tuesday evening that Valdez was excited to move into a runoff against Brown, her successor.

“Our strategy was always to make it into a runoff so we can go head to head and start talking about the sheriff’s record,” Hendrix said. “Suicide rates are up, murders in the jail are up, deaths in the jail are up, morale is very low.”

Brown’s campaign team could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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Valdez ran the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department until 2017, when she stepped down to run for governor. She won the Democratic primary in a runoff election but lost to incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in the November general election.

That election came after Valdez clashed with Abbott over a new state immigration law that banned cities from declaring themselves safe havens or “sanctuary cities,” meaning they would not enforce federal immigration statutes. The 2017 Texas law also allowed Texas police officers to question the immigration status of anyone they detained. Valdez said she would soften her approach to detaining undocumented immigrants booked in Dallas County jail.

When Valdez left the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, she endorsed Brown as her replacement. Brown, who became the counties’ first Black sheriff, began her career in law enforcement in 1988 with the Duncanville Police Department, according to her campaign website, and she served as a lieutenant and assistant police chief there before becoming sheriff.

Valdez was born in San Antonio to a family of migrant farm workers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University and a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Before entering local government, Valdez served in the U.S. Army, where she attained the rank of captain. She then worked as a federal agent for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and later for the Department of Homeland Security, where she focused on fraud and drug cases.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/06/texas-dallas-county-sheriff-primary-election/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

The post Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown to face predecessor Lupe Valdez, who ran for governor in 2018, in runoff election appeared first on Dallas Examiner.

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