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

News flash: Jim Foster is gay!

County Judge Jim Foster auditioned for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats’ of Dallas this year, but he didn’t receive it.

Openly gay Dallas County Judge Jim Foster left office over the weekend, “as quietly as he entered it,” according to The Dallas Morning News. But what really surprised us about The DMN’s compulsory farewell was that it didn’t once mention the fact that Foster is openly gay.

Which is kind of amazing, really, given that Foster was the first openly gay county judge in the state — and given that his limited political background before taking office had been largely in the LGBT community, with groups like Stonewall Democrats. Foster also owns a business that provides security for the major gay bars on Cedar Springs.

So, to some degree, this was an oversight by The DMN, but it was also probably a reflection of the fact that Foster hasn’t been very open about his sexual orientation during his four years in office. We’re told that as recently as this year, many people in county government didn’t even realize Foster is gay. He never sought an endorsement form the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and not even Stonewall Democrats backed him in this year’s Democratic Primary.

Of course, Stonewall’s decision not to endorse Foster was partly due to the fact that in four years, he didn’t do much on behalf of LGBT equality. Foster never formally proposed adding benefits for the domestic partners of gay and lesbian county employees. He never even formally proposed adding sexual orientation and/or gender identity to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy. Foster will tell you this was because he didn’t have the votes, but as an openly gay elected official who’d been endorsed by Stonewall in 2006, he could have at least tried.

Also this weekend, the two new members of the Commissioners Court, Clay Jenkins and Dr. Elba Garcia, were sworn in. With a Democratic majority for the first time in decades, we’d say it’s high time for the Commissioners Court to do what Foster failed to and bring the county into the 21st century on gay rights.

—  John Wright

Meet some candidates

The Democratic and Republican Primaries are coming up quick — in just a little over two weeks — and early voting ends in a week. But Brendan P. Haymaker, a candidate for chair of Precinct 3200, is giving you one more chance to meet some of the candidates who are asking for you vote in the Democratic Primary.

The event will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, in the Great Room at ilume, 4123 Cedar Springs Road.

There will be some snacks and beverages available, too.

Need more info? Call 214-300-8035.

—  admin

Stonewall Democrats of Denton issue endorsements

Stonewall Democrats of Denton County has endorsed 16 candidates in the March 2010 Democratic Primary election.

The endorsements were announced this week following a candidates forum two weeks ago, attended by local and statewide candidates for the Democratic Primary. Stonewall Denton then mailed follow-up questionnaires on LGBT equality issues to all of the potential candidates. The questionnaires also included questions on local issues such as gas drilling abuses in western Denton County.

Endorsements were approved a membership meeting held Jan. 30.

Endorsed candidates are:

—  admin

Eric Johnson responds to Hodge's withdrawal from House race

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson, candidate for Texas House District 100, has released a statement in response to incumbent State Rep. Terri Hodge’s announcement earlier today that she is ending her campaign for re-election to District 100 and pleading guilty to a federal criminal charge in connection with the Dallas City Hall corruption scandal. (Read Hodge’s statement here.)

In his statement, Johnson thanked Hodge for her 14 years’ of service to the people of District 14, and promised to “continue to keep Ms. Hodge and her family in our prayers.” He also called on Democrats to “come together as a party, as a district and as a city to achieve the improvements House District 100 so desperately needs,” and vowed to continue to “campaign over the next 27 days exactly as I have over the past eight months.”

Read Johnson’s statement in its entirety after the jump.

—  admin

Longtime LGBT ally Terri Hodge withdrawing from race, will enter guilty plea

State Rep. Terri Hodge in Dallas' gay Pride parade last year. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
State Rep. Terri Hodge in Dallas’ gay Pride parade last year. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

State Rep. Terri Hodge, the longtime representative for District 100 and longtime ally of the LGBT community, has just announced that she has reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to plead guilty to one criminal charge of making a false statement by failing to report income on her personal income tax returns.

As a result, Hodge said, she is also withdrawing from the race for the Democratic nomination for re-election to the Texas House.

Read the full text of her statement after the jump.

—  admin