Valdez gearing up for re-election bid

Nation’s only lesbian Latina sheriff to seek 3rd term, says she expects to once again be a GOP target

Valdez.Lupe

RIDING HIGH | Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, shown on horseback in this year’s gay Pride parade, is seeking re-election to a third four-year term in 2012. (Chuck Dubel/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Seven years ago, she became the first female, first Hispanic and — of course — the first openly LGBT person elected sheriff of Dallas County.

She remains the only lesbian Latina sheriff in the nation, and she’s one of only two female sheriffs in the state.

But as she prepares to seek a third four-year term in 2012, Lupe Valdez said she no longer gives much thought to her pioneering status.

“I don’t even pay attention to that anymore,” the 64-year-old Valdez said recently. “What I want to hear is, ‘She’s a good sheriff.’ What I want to hear is, ‘She’s making a difference.’ What I want to hear is, ‘Changes are for the better.’ That’s what I want to hear. It doesn’t matter whether I’m Latina or lesbian or whatever I am. The important thing is that we put in place a good, functioning sheriff’s department, which is what we’ve done.”

In 2004, Valdez was one of four Democrats — along with three judges — who broke a Republican lock on countywide elected office. Her victory over Republican Danny Chandler shook the Dallas establishment and served as a harbinger to the countywide Democratic sweep of 2006.

Since then, the county has remained solidly blue, and with President Barack Obama again atop the ballot, the incumbent sheriff is a heavy favorite to win re-election.

But Valdez, long a preferred target for Republicans as they seek to win back the county, said she isn’t taking anything for granted. For one, there are rumors she could again face a challenge in the Democratic Primary — as she did in 2008.

The candidate filing period begins Nov. 28 and runs through Dec. 15.

“I’m worried about both,” Valdez said when asked whether she’s more concerned about the primary or the general election. “I don’t ever assume anything. That’s how you lose, so I never assume anything. I’m really hoping that I don’t have a primary opponent.”

Not having a challenger from within the party would allow her to “focus and save money and go ahead and gather more money so I can hit whatever’s coming on” in November, Valdez said. She confirmed recent reports saying her fundraising is lagging and that she’s failed to amass much of a war chest.

“We all know that I’m going to be the [GOP’s] target for Dallas County,” Valdez said. “Last time I was the target for the state of Texas. I wouldn’t doubt that’s going to be the case again.”

“We know there’s a pendulum switch every so often,” she added. “I’m not going to assume anything, because I may be right on that pendulum.

“And even in 2004, when a lot of Republicans were elected, I was elected. So that says to me, whichever way it goes, I need to work so that I can get elected. I don’t assume anything. The only thing that I’m assuming is that I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can.”

The only Republican who’s publicly declared his intent to run for sheriff, former State Rep. Thomas Latham, said this week he doesn’t believe Dallas County is as blue as some may think.

“I think what this county has is a large number of swing voters,” Latham said. “I think the flow is going the other way.”
Latham said he believes Valdez’s Republican challenger in 2008, Lowell Cannaday, “got caught up in the Obama situation.”

“There was so much enthusiasm for him [Obama], and I don’t think that enthusiasm exists any longer,” Latham said. “I think the enthusiasm is now on the other side.”

Latham, 64, a former commander for the Garland Police Department, called Valdez “a nice lady” but said she doesn’t have the experience to effectively oversee the department.

“I think there’s a lack of leadership in the sheriff’s department,” Latham said. “I think there are some management issues down there that need to be addressed.”

In each of her previous election campaigns, Valdez has come under attack for her sexual orientation, and she said she fully expects that to happen again in 2012.

“What can they attack me on?” she said. “They can’t say I’m not doing my job … so what are they going to attack me on? ‘She’s a lesbian and she’s trying to push the gay agenda.’ Please tell me what the gay agenda is, so I can figure out how not to push it.”

Latham, for his part, said he doesn’t plan to bring up Valdez’s sexual orientation and doesn’t think it’s an issue in the race.

But he added that if someone else brings it up, he’ll respond by saying, “I wasn’t raised that way.”

Asked what he meant by that, Latham said: “I’m Southern Baptist. Southern Baptists don’t believe in that.”

LUPE VALDEZ’S CAMPAIGN KICKOFF
6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8
Conduit Gallery
1626-C Hi Line Drive
www.LupeValdez.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

BIG SUCCESS

CELEBRATING PROGRESS  | Trial lawyer Lisa Blue Baron, center, was the keynote speaker at the recent Landmark Dinner, benefiting Lambda Legal and marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas declaring the Texas sodomy law unconstitutional. The event, held at the W Hotel Dallas, raised more than $120,000, a record for Lambda Legal’s Southwest Regional Office in Dallas. Also during the dinner, American Airlines was presented with the Corporate Equality Award, Jackson Walker was presented with the Law Firm Equality Award and Dr. Mark Parker and Eric Johnson were presented with the Persons of Style Award. Pictured with Baron are Lambda Legal Leadership Committee member Brian Bleeker and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

LANDMARK EVENT

SUCCESS | Lisa Blue Baron, center, keynote speaker for the Landmark Dinner held Aug. 13 at the W Hotel is pictured with Lambda Legal Leadership Committee member Brian Bleeker and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The event raised more than $120,000 for Lambda Legal. (Photo courtesy Debra Gloria)

—  John Wright

LOCAL BRIEFS: HRC and LULAC hold Cinco de Mayo

The Human Rights Campaign will partner with the local LGBT chapter of LULAC — The Dallas Rainbow Council to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

The annual Salsa Cocktails event —featuring dancers, food and high-energy music — takes place at Havana, 4006 Cedar Springs Road, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 5.

“We have already confirmed Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez as one of our speakers,” said Kimberly Williams, HRC event coordinator. “Our dance group will also offer free salsa dance lessons for our guests.”

HRC and LULAC will talk about recent national and local successes. The public is invited to attend. The event is free, although a $20 donation to HRC at the door will get two free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

“Both HRC and LULAC will have information about membership and ways to get active,” said Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC 4871. “We have great projects coming up this summer. We invite community members ready to get involved to come learn about opportunities to further equality.”

—  John Wright

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Lupe Valdez, ‘famous modern day lesbian’

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and author Erin McHugh (via Facebook)

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is among the “famous modern day lesbians” featured in The L Life, a new coffee-table book by Erin McHugh that contains 160 pages of portraits and interview profiles. The book, released Tuesday, is selling for $32.50. From AfterEllen.com:

The lesbian phone tree worked its magic for McHugh and photographer Jennifer May, who worked for more than a year to coordinate who and where and when they’d be meeting with to feature in the book. The L Life is 160 pages of insight into each individual woman’s life, and the women in it are from all over the country. From household names like Jane Lynch to politicians and activists like Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Hon. Christine Quinn, the stories they tell are about realizing they were gay, coming out, living out in high-profile positions and moving through life as successful lesbians. …

The L Life may have some lesser-known lesbians on the “famous” scale, but that doesn’t mean the subjects are any less powerful or inspiring. In fact, the book is almost better because of it. Where else do we get to hear about Lupe Valdez, the out Latina Dallas County Sheriff? Or the Executive Vice President and General Manger of Logo, Lisa Sherman?

—  John Wright

Plaque in Tyler park to honor Nicholas West, murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in 1993

Nicholas West

On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Project TAG (Tyler Area Gays) and Tyler AIDS Services will unveil a plaque in Bergfeld Park honoring the memory of Nicholas West.

West was kidnapped from Bergfeld Park on Oct.  31, 1993. He was tortured, shot and left for dead. He was targeted because his three assailants presumed he was gay. At their trial, they confessed that they wanted to kill a homosexual.

West’s two murderers received the death penalty in the case.

The story was featured recently in the Investigation Discovery channel series Hardcover Mysteries. Dallas Voice senior editor Tammye Nash, who interviewed one of West’s killers on death row, is portrayed in the show by a svelte brunette whom we all agree is perfect for the part. The story of West’s murder was also featured in Arthur Dong’s 1997 documentary Licensed to Kill.

This summer’s production of The Laramie Project was in West’s memory.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez will attend the unveiling of the plaque for West with her Smith County counterpart, J.B. Smith. So will Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass.

Following the dedication at 6 p.m., a World AIDS Day remembrance will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 230 West Rusk St. in Tyler at 6:30 p.m. followed by a candlelight vigil.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Bill White on why he’s coming to gay Pride in Dallas — ‘I think parades are great’

We weren’t sure of the topic when we headed down to the Hyatt Regency this morning to catch a press conference featuring Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White. But we figured since Valdez is the nation’s only lesbian Latina sheriff — and since White is coming to Dallas’ gay Pride parade in a few weeks — we’d better go check it out.

As it turned out, the press conference was about White’s border security plan, which Valdez really likes. But Instant Tea also managed to sneak in a question about White’s upcoming appearance in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade — which was announced Monday night by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. If you can forgive the shot of a pantleg at the beginning of the video, above is White’s response to our question, as well as some footage of Valdez talking about White and LGBT issues afterward. Enjoy!

—  John Wright

Bill White to appear at Gay Pride in Dallas

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White will appear in Dallas’ gay Pride parade on Sept. 19, according to an e-mail we received Monday night from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. As mayor of Houston, White made a habit of appearing at Pride. And this is a smart move, because he’ll need a big turnout from the LGBT community all over the state to defeat Gov. Rick Perry. The right-wingers are going to vote for Perry anyway, and it’s doubtful that moderate Republicans and Independents will be turned off by this appearance. From Stonewall Democrats Vice President Jay Narey:

“It’s election season once again — and I have a very special announcement that I would like to make to all of you. We will have a very special guest walking with Stonewall Democrats in the Alan Ross Pride Parade on September 19th. Bill White, the Democratic Nominee for Governor of Texas will be joining us and walking with Stonewall in the Parade! We are thrilled and honored that he will join us and look forward to a very special day.”

According to White’s campaign, he’s also slated to appear at a press conference with Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez on Tuesday morning, Sept. 7. The press conference will be at 10:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd. The e-mail sent by White’s campaign Monday doesn’t say the reason for the press conference, but it’s possible that Valdez will be formally endorsing White.

—  John Wright