Allies became adversaries at the Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday as one commissioner attacked the command staff choice of the sheriff, a fellow Democrat.
Sheriff Lupe Valdez replaced Assistant Chief Deputy Cheryl Wilson, who is black, with Capt. Jason Hargraves, who is white.
Wilson left to become Lancaster's police chief.
Commissioner John Wiley Price blasted the sheriff over Hargraves' promotion, which was among routine personnel matters approved at the meeting.
"I find that to be nothing short of ludicrous and therefore will not be supporting this," he said.
One black person remains among the sheriff's department's seven top commanders and Price said that is not enough.
"For three decades, we've had at least two. All of a sudden, she can't find anyone else," he said. "I've got people who've been over there 10 or 15 years, master's degrees, lieutenants that worked in every discipline. They don't get a break."
The latest news from around North Texas.
Valdez said Hargraves, who has a master's degree, was the best candidate for the promotion.
She said she has hired and promoted more blacks since being elected in 2004 and said Price's attack was unjustified.
"Of course it hurts me personally," Valdez said. "We have the same goals, we're just taking different routes and I will continue to work with the commissioner to achieve what is best for the department."
Valdez said Price had agreed before with her plan to help advance more recently hired jail deputies who are not gun-carrying sworn peace officers through a new civilian promotion path.
"I'm not the type to grandstand," she said. "I am the type to get things done. I think we need to put this behind and go forward and open up a path."
Price said Tuesday that the civilian path limits future career options for sheriff's employees.
"I don't want to go down the road she's going down if that's the case," he said. "It's one thing to profess one thing. Your performance says everything."
Three of the four Commissioners Court members present Tuesday voted to support the personnel issue, including Valdez' command staff change.
County Judge Clay Jenkins said Price's "no" vote was only symbolic because County Commissioners have budget authority but not command staff decision-making power over the independently elected sheriff.
"I support efforts on diversity, but I also know Sheriff Valdez has a strong record on that, and we have no discretion whatsoever on her executive hiring," Jenkins said.