Dallas Democrats spar over racial makeup of sheriff's staff

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 7:32 PM

DALLAS — During an open meeting on Tuesday, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price lashed out at Sheriff Lupe Valdez over a high-profile promotion.

Valdez promoted a white male to a job previously held by a black woman, leaving a single African-American on the Sheriff's command staff for the first time in years.

It was a rare public feud between Price and Valdez, who are both Democrats. Both have previously worked closely on public safety issues, like jail overcrowding.

When it was over, Valdez said she didn't see it coming. But this was not an offhand comment from price; his remarks appeared to have been prepared in advance.

"Regardless of what anyone says, without the African-American community — of which she has forsaken today — she would never have the privilege of wearing the stars and chevron of uniform she wears daily," Price said.

County officials have latitude to make their own personnel moves, but in Price's view, Valdez blundered in this latest promotion.

"Of course it hurts me personally," the sheriff said. "We have the same goals... we're just taking different routes."

While Price was on the attack, Valdez struck a conciliatory tone and said she was proud of her record of diversity on hiring and promotion. But from the sound of it, this relationship has soured.

"In a community of 2.3 million people in Dallas County, I find it hard to believe that we continue to do anything less than provide full representation in every elected and appointed capacity," Price said.

The commissioner held up the sheriff's appointment. That sets up a confrontation at next week's Commissioner's Court meeting.

If Valdez' appointment goes through, there will be one African-American member on the department's seven-person command staff in a county with a 22 percent black population.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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