Thursday, December 29, 2011
Betty Culbreath hopes to do away with “illusion” of John Wiley Price’s effectiveness
Culbreath said her campaign will start up after the beginning of the year.
Betty Culbreath, who carries a packed resume of experience in Dallas politics, has chosen to jump into the race against her former mentor John Wiley Price because “enough is enough.”
“If the new court will not take a stand and declare enough is enough from one commissioner, then someone has to do that,” she said. “It’s plain as daylight that it’s time, and that’s what surprises me. I thought the new court would have the fortitude to make decisions to benefit the people, but they don’t.”
Culbreath worked for Price at the beginning of his career as a commissioner from 1985 to 1991. She said in that time, Price was a different man who had the people in mind and got along with those that didn’t share similar ideology – something she thinks is missing now.
“To me, it’s almost like Commissioner Price has been there so long that the positions that he takes is like the district belongs to him personally, and however he wants to use the power of the position, to intimidate or punish, he will do that,” she said.
And while Culbreath admits Price still has a following in South Dallas, she believes that when he is made to answer hard questions, that popularity will fade. She equated him to Rick Perry, who she said “could never have lost in Texas” before he was up on the national stage answering the tough questions. Now, Culbreath said, “Perry would never win.”
“It’s very easy to paint an illusion as long as you don’t have to answer any real questions,” she said. “If you never have any opponents, you get up and protest and punch the button that you know is important to your people.”
The “button” Culbreath thinks Price is pushing is “the race card,” which she said he plays to his advantage in order to gather the support of his people even when “race has nothing to do with it.” She believes the people who support Price will be swayed by his inability to demonstrate the real effects of his time in office.
“When you ask people why they support him, they say, ‘Well he has done a lot for us,’ but when you ask them they cannot tell you one thing he has actually done. Not one,” she said.
Culbreath said she believes that “if given the chance” the people of South Dallas will choose to vote for someone else, and that the person with the best name recognition and track record will be able to win – two things she believes she has.
“[My opponents] have no record in this city, I have one,” she said. “I have big name identification in this city, I have integrity. I have worked for the county for years. I don’t have to go down there and have on the job training, and people know that.”
She believes her motivations for running for office also set her ahead of her opponents, who she speculated may be looking for a new job.
“I am not looking for a career, I’m not looking for a check. It’s gotten to the point where I could not allow the commissioner to continue to behave like he is,” she said.
If she does beat out Price for his seat, she said her first move will be to focus her efforts on attracting businesses to the area that may have been intimidated to move to South Dallas because of John Wiley Price.
“The first thing I would do is to let the people know that the district is clean, that you don’t have to pay to play,” she said. “I will let them know that I will do anything within my power as a county official to help them.”
She said the most important thing the county can do is allow business owners to have “the freedom they need to do business” and not to interfere with their progress or “dictate to them or intimidate them” like she said Price has in the past.
She said she will also follow rules that Price has chosen to ignore, and take a more hands off approach where Price has chosen to interfere. She used examples of his manipulation of the Parkland Board of Managers, or his frequent interference with the county’s precinct chairs, to demonstrate his “manipulative” approach.
“If [you as a precinct chair] disagree with Price, he won’t let you run your election. He’ll appoint someone else; He’s done it for years,” she said.
Culbreath said her campaign will start up after the beginning of the year, and said she was “overwhelmed” by the number of people who have already stepped forward to offer their help. Once it gets fully underway, she said she will use traditional campaigning techniques like door-to-door walks, signs, phone banks, and social media.
Her campaign leaders aren’t finalized, but Culbreath said she has meetings on Tuesday with those she has asked to be involved. While she wouldn’t say who she had asked, she said all of them were “seasoned veterans who have been on the winning side and can produce numbers.”
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