News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Marian Brown Named Interim Dallas County Sheriff, Stepping In For Lupe Valdez

Dallas County Sheriff's Office
Graphic by Molly Evans

Marian Brown has been named interim Dallas County sheriff, stepping in for Lupe Valdez, who resigned this month to run for governor.

Brown, who currently serves as chief deputy, was appointed by Dallas County commissioners Tuesday morning. She has been with the sheriff's department since 2014 — and she's one of five candidates vying to permanently replace Valdez.

"I am thankful for the opportunity to play even a small role in making the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, indeed, the premier law enforcement agency of Dallas County," she said Tuesday.

Brown will lead the department until November 2018 — unless she's elected. She's running as a Democrat in the county sheriff’s race with the hopes of finishing Valdez’s term, which expires at the end of 2020.

Four other candidates have filed to run in the March primary, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Democratic contenders include Constable Roy Williams, Jr. and Eland J. Sigler. And a pair of Republicans will face off: Chad Prda, a detective in the sheriff’s department, and Aaron Meek, a sheriff’s deputy.

Unfair advantage?

Brown was unanimously approved by the five county commissioners. Judge Clay Jenkins, who heads the court, says he would have preferred someone who wasn't also running to replace Valdez; someone who could spend 100 percent of the time working on the jail and other serious issues. 

"We had several qualified candidates. The majority preferred a candidate who happens to be running,” Jenkins said. “The group joined together and made that a 5-0 vote for a very qualified next Sheriff of Dallas County.”

This appointment may give Brown an advantage in the election, but Jenkins isn't so sure.

"If there are problems at the jail, the other party will try to lay that at the feet of the person who's running it, so I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage to actually be sheriff while you're running," he said.

Brown said running as acting sheriff is an advantage, but not an unfair one. In the end, she still has to deliver.

“You have to get out there and you have to sell yourself,” she said. “You have to let what you do, your work, speak for itself, and that's what I intend to do.”

Background on Brown

Brown's been in law enforcement since 1988. Before joining the sheriff's department, Brown spent 26 years with the Duncanville Police Department, working her way up to assistant chief. She was the first African-American woman hired by the Duncanville police force.

“I started preparing for this job 29 years ago when I started in law enforcement. This was the ultimate goal. While I did not anticipate coming to be the sheriff, I did know that there was some place I was going. Every aspect of law enforcement I've had an opportunity to participate in — if not completely lead — and so I feel like I’m up to this challenge," she said.

When Sheriff Lupe Sheriff talked to commissioners, she told them Brown was her first choice.

"She's accountable, she's responsible, she's professional, [and] she's diplomatic. You know, that's pretty close, so...of course I like the concept of having a responsible, accountable female taking over," Valdez said.

Brown officially takes over from Sheriff Valdez Dec. 31, at midnight. Valdez served as county sheriff since 2004. She was the first out Latina lesbian in the country to become sheriff. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.