A new contest for Dallas sheriff heated up Wednesday with the announcement from Democratic Sheriff Lupe Valdez that she will resign to run for Texas governor.
The incumbent sheriff was to serve through 2020, so candidates to replace her have a short time to launch campaigns.
"For me personally, it's almost like an early Christmas present," said Dallas County Precinct 4 Constable Roy Williams.
He served 21 years in the Dallas County Sheriff's Department before winning two terms as constable.
"I wanted to make the constable's office a vital part of county government, and so now it's time to shift my sights to even greater things," Williams said. "I think I'm prepared for the even bigger stage, if you will."
Several Democrats said Wednesday they will run for sheriff. The filing deadline is extended five days to Dec. 16 due to the timing of Valdez's announcement.
Lupe Valdez was the nation's first openly gay Latina to serve as sheriff. She received credit from county leaders for improving standards at the Dallas County Jail, which had failed inspections for many years before she took over.
Criminal defense attorney Pete Schulte said he will run in the March Democratic primary for sheriff.
"I'm an openly gay candidate. I've not been very secret about that. I am a white male, but I have qualifications that nobody that will run in this primary will be able to compete with," Schulte said.
He's been a lawyer for 12 years, part of that time working as a Dallas County prosecutor. Before law school, Schulte served almost 20 years as a police officer and still serves as a reserve officer in DeSoto.
"I think it's time that we had somebody else with a different set of ideas and a different skill set to come in and analyze how the seventh largest sheriff's department in the seventh largest county is handling itself in the entire criminal justice system," Schulte said.
Chief Deputy Marian Brown is the third Democrat planning to run. She is a retired Duncanville assistant police chief and was selected by Valdez to be her top assistant.
"There are persons who have been here previously. But my experience and my knowledge are current, so I think that's what's important," Brown said.
Dallas County commissioners will select a temporary replacement for Valdez to serve through the next year until after the November 2018 general election.
Commissioner John Wiley Price said he will support the person whom Sheriff Valdez chose as her successor, and that's Brown.
"I think it's important that the person who serves as the interim can say to people, 'Look, business as usual,'" Brown said.
The leader of Commissioners Court, County Judge Clay Jenkins, said he is leaning toward a replacement who is not running for the permanent position.
"I, for one, would lean against appointing someone who is running, because I know how time consuming it can be to run," Jenkins said.
The county commissioners' next regular meeting is Dec. 19, which falls after the Dec. 16 filing deadline. Jenkins said the replacement could be appointed at that meeting.
Jenkins said Valdez will serve as sheriff until a replacement is selected.
Constable Williams said he will not be required to resign to run but will not be able to seek reelection to his current post.
Dallas County Deputy Chad Prda filed on Wednesday to run for sheriff as a Republican. Party officials said they expect other Republican candidates before the deadline.