Danny Valdez

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Danny Valdez

County Judge of Webb County, Texas
In office
January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2014
Succeeded by Tano Tijerina

Born Augut 8, 1953
Laredo, Texas
Nationality Mexican-American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Isabel Valdez
Children Danny Valdez
Alma mater Martin High School
Laredo Junior College
Religion Roman Catholic

Danny Valdez (born August 8, 1953) is the former county judge for Webb County, Texas. He is the 22nd person to have held the elected office since Webb County was established in the southern part of the state in 1848. He served four years with the United States Navy and twenty-four years as a justice of the peace before becoming county judge in 2007.[1]

He won Democratic Party re-nomination in the runoff primary held on April 13, 2010, by defeating his eventual successor in the office, Laredo businessman and former professional baseball player Tano Tijerina. In the primary election held on March 2, Valdez led Tijerina by a narrow margin. Two other candidates trailed, former District Court Judge Andres Ramos and former Webb County Judge Louis H. Bruni, Valdez's predecessor in the office.

Background

Valdez was born the second child of Eliseo and Lucinda Valdez and was reared in the Canta Rana neighborhood in Laredo's west side. He attended Farias Elementary School, Christen Middle School, Martin High School, and the former Laredo Junior College, which was renamed in 1993 as Laredo Community College. He worked as a Webb County personal recognizance bond officer before his election as a JP in 1982. His son, born in 1988, is also named Danny Valdez.

Justice of the peace

Valdez took a particular interest in working with the youth during his time as a JP. With the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he brought inmates to Laredo's middle and high schools to tell their life stories in an effort to educate and warn students about the dangers of wrong choices. Valdez worked with the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust to develop a Boy Scouts camp and an inner-city recreation center. He co-chaired Laredo's annual "Toys for Tejanitos Drive" to benefit needy families, and he chaired an annual fishing derby for physically challenged students. Valdez started the Special Student of the Month Program that recognizes physically challenged students from area high schools. He started an annual fishing derby for mentally-challenged youngsters from area high schools. He chairs the Annual  Avery Johnson Basketball Camp which allows students to sign up for the camp and perform community service in lieu of paying a camp fee. He has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships to pupils in the Laredo Independent School District. [1]

Election as county judge

Not wanting to lose his JP position, Valdez did not declare his candidacy for county judge until January 1, 2006, giving him a little more than three months before the pivotal Democratic primary. He faced the incumbent county judge, Louis H. Bruni, and a multi-term county commissioner, Judith Gutierrez. Valdez sailed to victory with 37 percent of the vote in the initial primary and 62 percent of the vote in the runoff against millionaire businessman Carlos Y. Benavides, III. Bruni ran fourth, failed to garner a runoff berth, and later switched to Republican affiliation and lost a race for the Texas State Senate in 2008 against Democrat Judith Pappas Zaffirini. [2] There were no second-party challengers. The Texas Observer, an Austin-based political magazine, attributed Valdez's win to his humble background, his tireless grassroots campaigning and his image as an honest, decent citizen.[3] Louis Bruni returned to the Democratic Party to challenge Valdez on March 2. Judith Gutierrez, meanwhile, sought unsuccessfully to return to her previous county commissioner seat in the April 13 runoff but was defeated by the incumbent commissioner, Rosaura Tijerina, the aunt by marriage of Tano Tijerina.

Candidacy for state representative

In 2017, Valdez announced his candidacy for the District 80 seat in the Texas House of Representatives held since 1995 by his fellow Democrat, Tracy King, of Batesville in Zavala County. King is the only Anglo Democrat from a partly rural district in Texas; in 2015, he was one of only five Anglo Democrats in the entire House. Valez's filing papers were sent to the wrong address for the state Democratic Party in Austin. Valdez blamed the error on the search engine Bing, which had not updated the party address since the headquarters moved to another location in Austin in 2015. By the time Valdez learned that his papers were invalid, the filing deadline for the position had lapsed by three days. Valdez lost his suit seeking placement on the ballot before the Texas Third District Court of Appeals and appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. Further complicating the case was the January 20 deadline for printing the ballots, which on that date can be sent to military personnel and others requesting mail-in ballots. Even if the Supreme Court had placed Valdez on the ballot, the addition would have needed the approval of the Democratic and Republican party chairs, sent to the vendor for printing, and returned to Webb County to be stamped with the official signature before the ballots could be shipped.[1]

Valdez never obtained ballot access; the Texas Secretary of State website lists Tracy King as unopposed for both the party's nomination and the general election as well.[2]

Meanwhile, Valdez's former opponent for county judge, Tano Tijerina, won re-nomination to a second term in the Democratic primary held on March 6, 2018. Tijerina turned back the challenge of Webb County Assessor-Collector Patricia A. Barrera.

References

  • 1.^ a b [1]; access no longer available.
  • 2.^ [2]
  • 3.^ [3]