Lupe Valdez: the Hispanic sheriff who wants to transform Texas
Guadalupe "Lupe" Valdez is the first Hispanic and lesbian sheriff in the history of Dallas, and she is now aiming at the Governor’s Office in Texas.
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In a conservative state such as Texas, Sheriff Lupe means hope among those who want a different world.
Born of immigrant parents, Lupe grew up in a farmer environment in San Antonio, being the youngest of 8 siblings. Through hard work, she managed to pay her education in Business Administration in the Southern Nazarene University (Bethany, Oklahoma), to then specialize in criminology and criminal justice in the University of Texas in Arlington.
After a successful career in the Army – where she would hold the title of Captain – Valdez announced her candidacy to be Sheriff of the Dallas County on January 2, 2004, in the middle of a political scenario where the right was holding the power, and where Hispanic women didn't have a place.
Against all odds, she overshadowed her contender in the Democrat Primaries with 73% of the vote, and later on she defeated her Republican rival with 51.3% thanks to her commitment to the Latino and homosexual minorities in the County, hitting the headlines as the first Hispanic and openly lesbian woman to hold such a position in one of the Republican pillars of the country.
She was re-elected to the job in 2008 and kept in charge for four terms until December 2017, when she announced her retirement to run for the governor’s office in the November 2018 elections.
With a record of LGBTQ activism, fighting corruption and renewing the prison system in Dallas, Valdez has become a model of administration and performance within the state, reaching out to external organizations such as the National Democratic Committee, in 2010.
But the battle for governance is not emerging as a simple challenge for this Latina. Her campaign has only raised $ 46,000, compared to the nearly 43 million that her opponent, the current Republican Governor Greg Abbott, has. The fight will also be moral and even ideological because there are those who believe that Texas is not prepared for a leader with a profile like Valdez's.
As University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus explained to The Guardian, Valdez "represents the kind of candidate that the Democrats have been looking for. Someone who’s been a successful politician; who has a good record (...) who is Latina and that means potentially increasing support form women in Texas as well as Latinos.”
On the contrary, Rottinghaus considers that “if she were to play up the fact that she’s gay and Latina I think it would be a potential problem in some constituencies in the general election who are not yet ready to have a Latina, LGBT governor.”
But that is precisely the front that the candidate has decided to address since announcing her career: the demystification that Texas is a behind-times state.
“¡Ya basta! Enough!” she said during her launch speech in Dallas. "Together, we must build something new. A new Texas," she concluded.
In the same way, and in a political scenario that attempts to erode the stability of the Latin American and immigrant community in the United States, the candidate has decided to play her cards well, advocating for the rights of young Latinos such as the so-called Dreamers, as reported by Texas Tribune. Valdez said that “Dreamers and their parents must be able to achieve their goals in the land that they’ve always considered their country,” she said. "We must educate to elevate".
In a state where the Latino population has grown by 60% between 2000 and 2015 (according to the Pew Research Center), and where Hispanics represent 39% (when whites are 43%), the possibilities of a candidate like Sheriff Lupe, are not at all despicable.
The goal now is, according to the candidate herself, to get people to vote. "Texas is not a red state, it’s a non-voting state. People don’t vote. Once we change that, Texas will no longer be a red state,” she assured with total conviction during an interview with Vice. "Wherever I go, people know that I’m a lesbian. I think it's accepted. The truth is, we’re everywhere, and that doesn’t matter if you are in the city, the suburbs or rural areas. There are LGBTQ folks in all areas and all occupations, so it only makes sense that we would all be part of the governing branch, too.”