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Lupe Valdez announces run for her old job as Dallas County Sheriff

Christopher Connelly

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is throwing her hat into the ring again. She launched her campaign for sheriff on Thursday.

“We should be out serving the people. We should be trying to take care of them. We should be trying to do what’s best for the other folks, not what’s best for me,” Valdez said in an interview.

Valdez is seeking to unseat current Sheriff Marian Brown, who has been in the job since Valdez departed to run for Texas governor in 2017. Brown’s tenure included the COVID-19 pandemic, a tumultuous time for many jails around the state.

Brown faced lawsuits from both inmates and employees over virus safety protocols within the Dallas County Jail, although those lawsuits were dismissed.

Valdez said she decided to run after hearing about “a couple of things that were brought to my attention that were painful that happened.”

Valdez offered no specifics on those incidents and said she didn’t want to run a negative campaign.

“I think that’s about as much as I’ll tell you on that one,” she said.

County sheriffs in Texas are responsible for operating county jails, as well as some law enforcement in the field.

A limited review this spring declared the jail in compliance with state standards.

Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown speaks to media members at a scene Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Dallas.
Yfat Yossifor
Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown in February 2023. She has been in office since late 2017, when former Sheriff Lupe Valdez departed to run for governor.

More recently, a change to who has permission to use the Adult Information System – which has information on people who have been arrested – led to staff in other county departments complaining of slowdowns. That, plus a separate technology issue overseen by a different county department, may be increasing the jail population, county staff has said.

In a statement to KERA last week, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said the AIS system is not down.

“Some employees who have not done their required fingerprints, and /or training have been temporarily disconnected pending completion of same,” the statement said. “At this time our jail processes continue as appropriate.”

KERA has reached out to Brown’s office for comment on Valdez' campaign announcement.

For her part, Valdez said she only knows about current technology problems through news reports, and emphasized she would take a proactive approach to the job.

“If you’re going to try to fix anything, you have to go out to the commissioners or the public or to your fellow county departments and get things done,” she said, citing the limited funds available to the department. “There’s a lot of things that you can do, but you can’t do it on your own.”

Valdez ran the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department from 2005 to 2017 and was the only Latina Sheriff in the U.S., according to a campaign press release. She was also “one of the very few LGBTQ Americans in public office.”

She is currently 75, and said she recently got a clean bill of health from her doctor.

“I have plans for the next 40 years,” Valdez said. “I’m not going to be in office that long, but I have plans for that long.”

Both women are Democrats, and Dallas County has a heavily Democratic electorate. That means the winner of the primary on March 5 will likely win the sheriff job next fall.

This story has been updated since it was originally published.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.